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BV  4526  .H4 

Henry,  Matthew,  1662-1714 

A  church  in  the  house 







The  paper  in  this  volume  is  brittle  or  the 
inner  margins  are  extremely  narrow* 

We  have  bound  or  rebound  the  volume 
utilizing  the  best  means  possible. 


General  Bookbinding  Co..  Chesterland.  Ohio 




Author  of  the  Commeatary  oa  tlie  Bible. 

Among  the  salutations  presented  by  the 
Apostle  Paul  in  his  first  epistle  to  the  Corin- 
thians, 16  :  19,  was  that  from  Aquila  and 
Priscilla,  and  the  church  in  their  house.  Some 
very  good  interpreters,  I  know,  understand 
this  of  a  settled,  stated,  solemn  meeting  of 
christians  held  at  their  house  for  public  wor- 
ship ;  and  they  were  glad  o?  houses  to  meet  in, 
where  they  wanted  those  better  conveniences 
which  the  church  was  afterwards  in  her  pros- 
perous days  accommodated  with.  When  they 
had  not  such  places  as  they  could  wish,  they 

4  A    CHURCH    IN   THE    HOUSE, 

thankfully  made  use  of  such  as  they  could  get. 

But  others  think  it  is  meant  only  of  their 
own  family  and  the  strangers  within  their 
gates,  among  whom  there  was  so  much  piety 
and  devotion  that  it  might  well  be  called  a 
church,  or  religious  house.  Thus  the  ancients 
generally  understood  it.  Nor  was  it  only  Aqui- 
la  and  Priscilla  whose  house  was  thus  celebra- 
ted for  religion,  (here  and  Rom.  16  :  5,)  but 
Nymphas  also  had  a  church  in  his  house,  Col. 
4  :  15,  and  Philemon,  5  :  2.  Not  but  that  oth- 
ers, to  whom  and  from  whom  salutations  are 
sent  in  Paul's  epistles,  made  conscience  of 
keeping  up  religion  in  their  families  ;  but  these 
are  mentioned  probably  because  their  families 
were  more  numerous  than  most  of  those  other 
families  were,  which  made  their  family  devo-, 
tions  more  solemn,  and  consequently  more 

In  this  sense  I  shall  choose  to  interpret  it, 
and  hence  to  recomjneTid  fcwiih/  7'eligimi,  un- 
der the  idea  of  a  clmrcli  in  the  liouse.  When 
we  see  your  public  assemblies  so  well  frequent- 


ed  we  cannot  but  thank  God  and  take  cou- 
rage ;  your  diligent  attendance  on  the  ministry 
of  the  word  and  prayers  is  your  praise,  and  I 
tmst,  through  grace,  it  redounds  to  your  spiri- 
tual comfort  and  benefit.  13ut  my  subject  at 
this  time  will  lead  me  to  inquire  into  the  state 
of  religion  in  your  private  houses,  whether  it 
flourish  or  wither  there  ?  Whether  it  be  on 
the  throne,  or  under  foot  there  ]  Herein  I 
desire  to  deal  plainly  and  faithfully  with  your 
consciences,  and  I  beg  you  will  give  them 
leave  to  deal  so  with  you. 

The  pious  and  zealous  endeavors  both  of 
magistrates  and  ministers  for  the  reformation 
of  manners  and  the  suppression  of  vice  and 
profaneness,  are  the  joy  and  encouragement  of 
all  good  people  in  the  land,  and  a  happy  indi- 
cation that  God  has  yet  mercy  in  store  for  us. 
"If  the  Lord  had  been  pleased  to  kill  us,  he 
would  not  have  showed  us  such  things  as 
these."  Now  I  know  not  any  thing  that  will 
contribute  more  to  the  furtherance  of  this  good 
work  than  the  bringing  o^  family  religion  moi-e 

6  A    CHURCH    IN    THE    HOUSE, 

into  practice  and  reputation.  Here  the  refor- 
mation must  begin.  Other  methods  may  check 
the  disease  we  complain  of,  but  this,  if  it  might 
universally  obtain,  would  cure  it.  Salt  must 
be  cast  into  these  springs,  and  then  the  waters 
would  be  healed. 

Many  a  time,  no  doubt,  you  have  been  urged 
to  this  part  of  your  duty ;  many  a  good  sermon 
perhaps  you  have  heard,  and  many  a  good 
book  has  been  put  into  your  hands  with  this 
design,  to  persuade  you  to  keep  up  religion  in 
your  families,  and  to  assist  you  therein  :  but  I 
hope  a  further  attempt  to  advance  this  good 
work,  by  one  who  is  a  hearty  well-wisher  to 
it,  and  to  the  prosperity  of  your  souls  and  fami- 
lies, will  not  be  thought  altogether  needless, 
and  that  by  the  grace  of  God  it  will  not  be 
wholly  fruitless  :  at  least  it  will  serve  to  re- 
mind you  of  what  you  have  received  and  heard 
to  this  purpose,  that  you  may  hold  fast  what  is 
o^ood,  and  reoent  of  what  is  amiss.  Rev.  3  :  3. 
The  lesson  then  which  I  would  recommend 
is  this  : 


The  fun)ilio3  of  Christians  should  bo  little  Churches  :  or, 
Wherever  we  have  a  house,  God  sliould  have  a  Church 
in  it. 

TTnlia]>py  contests  there  have  been,  and  still 
are,  amonof  wise  and  g^ood  men  about  the  con- 
stitution,  order,  and  government  of  churches ; 
God  by  his  grace  heal  these  breaches,  lead  us 
into  all  truth,  and  dispose  our  minds  to  love 
and  peace  ;  that  while  we  endeavor  herein  to 
walk  according  to  the  light  God  has  given  us, 
we  may  charitably  believe  that  others  do  so 
too ;  lonofinof  to  be  there  where  we  shall  be  all 
of  a  mind. 

But  I  am  now  speaking  of  churches  concern- 
ing which  there  is  no  controversy.  All  agree 
that  masters  of  families,  who  profess  religion 
and  the  fear  of  God  themselves,  should,  ac- 
cording to  the  talents  they  are  intrusted  with, 
maintain  and  keep  up  religion  and  the  fear  of 
God  in  their  families,  as  those  who  must  give 
account :  and  that  families,  as  such,  should 
contribute  to  the  support  of  Christianity  in  a 
nation,  whose  honor  and  happiness  it  is  to  be  a 

8  A    CHURCH    IN    THE    HOUSE, 

christian  nation.  As  nature  makes  families 
little  kingdoms,  (and  perhaps  oeconomics,  or 
rules  of  the  household,  were  the  first  and  most 
ancient  politics ;)  so  grace  makes  families  little 
churches ;  and  those  were  the  primitive  church- 
es of  the  Old  Testament,  before  *' men  began 
to  call  upon  the  name  of  the  Lord  "  in  solemn 
assemblies,  and  "  the  sons  of  God  came  to- 
gether to  present  themselves  "  before  him. 

Not  that  I  would  have  these  family  church- 
es maintained  in  competition  with,  much  less 
in  contradiction  to  public  religious  assemblies, 
which  ought  always  to  have  the  preference  : 
"  The  Lord  loves  the  gates  of  Zion  more  than 
all  the  dwellings  of  Jacob,"  Psalm  87 :  2,  and  so 
must  we  ;  and  must  not  forsake  the  assembling 
of  ourselves  together,  under  color  of  exhorting 
one  another  daily  at  home.  Far  be  it  from  us 
to  offer  any  thing  that  may  countenance  the 
invading  of  the  office  of  the  ministry,  and  the 
usurping  or  superseding  of  the  administration 
of  the  ordinances.  These  family  churches 
(wliich  are  but  figuratively  so)  must  be  erected 


and  maintained  in  subordination  to  those  more 
sacred  and  solemn  establishments.  I  proceed 
to  show, 

I.  What  that  family  religion  is  which 
^vill  be  as  a  church  in  the  house.  Churches 
are  sacred  societies,  incoi-porated  for  the  honor 
and  service  of  God  in  Christ ;  devoted  to  God, 
and  employed  for  him ;  so  should  our  fami- 
lies be. 

1.  Churches  are  societies  devoted  to  God, 
called  out  of  the  world,  taken  in  out  of  the 
common  to  be  inclosures  for  God  :  he  hap  set 
them  apart  for  himself;  and  because  he  has 
chosen  them,  they  also  have  chosen  him,  and 
set  themselves  apart  for  him.  The  Jewish 
church  was  separated  to  God  for  a  "  peculiar 
people,  a  kingdom  of  priests." 

Thus  o?ir  houses  must  he  cliurclics ;  with  our- 
selves we  must  give  up  our  houses  to  the  Lord, 
to  be  to  him  for  a  name  and  a  people.  All 
the  interest  we  have,  both  in  our  relations  and 
In  our  possessions,  must  be  consecrated  to 
God ;  as  under  the  law  all  that  the  servant  had 

10  A    CHURCH    IN    THE    HOUSE, 

was  his  master's  for  ever,  after  he  had  consent- 
ed to  have  his  ear  bored  to  the  door-post. 
When  God  effectually  called  Abram  out  of  Ur 
of  the  Chaldees,  his  family  assumed  the  ap- 
pearance of  a  particular  church ;  for,  in  obedi- 
ence to  God's  precept,  and  in  dependence  on 
God's  promise,  they  took  all  the  substance 
they  had  gathered,  and  the  souls  they  had  got- 
ten, and  put  themselves  and  their  all  under  a 
divine  conduct  and  government.  Gen.  12  :  5. 
His  was  a  great  family,  the  father  of  it  was  the 
father  of  all  them  that  believe  ;  but  even  little 
families,  jointly  and  entirely  given  up  to  God, 
so  become  churches.  When  all  the  members 
of  the  family  yield  themselves  to  God,  sub- 
scribe with  their  hands  to  be  the  Lord's,  and 
surname  themselves  by  the  name  of  Israel, — 
and  the  master  of  the  family,  with  himself, 
gives  up  all  his  right,  title,  and  interest  in  his 
house,  and  all  that  belongs  to  it,  to  God,  to  be 
used  for  him,  and  disposed  of  by  him  ;  here  is 
a  church  in  the  house. 

More  than  once  in  the  Old  Testament  we 


read  of  the  dedication  of  private  houses.  Il  is 
spoken  of  as  a  common  practice.  Deut.  20  :  5. 
**  \VTiat  man  is  there  that  hath  built  a  new 
house,  and  hath  not  dedicated  it  ?"  that  is,  ta- 
ken possession  of  it,  in  doing  which  it  was 
usual  to  dedicate  it  to  God  by  some  solemn 
acts  of  religious  worship.  The  30th  Psalm  is 
entitled,  *'  A  psalm  or  song  at  the  dedication 
of  the  house  of  David."  It  is  a  good  thing 
when  a  man  has  a  house  of  his  own,  thus  to 
convert  it  into  a  church,  by  dedicating  it  to  the 
service  and  honor  of  God,  that  it  may  be  a 
Bethel,  a  house  of  God,  and  not  a  Bethaven, 
-a  house  of  vanity  and  iniquity.  Every  good 
christian  who  is  a  householder,  no  doubt  does 
this  habitually  and  virtually;  having  first  given 
himself  to  the  Lord,  he  freely  suiTenders  all 
he  has  to  him  ;  but  it  may  be  of  good  use  to  do 
it  actually  and  expressly,  and  often  to  repeat 
this  act  of  resignation,  '*  This  stone  which  I 
have  set  for  a  pillow  shall  be  God's  house." 
Gen.  28  :  22.  Let  all  I  have  in  my  house,  and 
all  I  do  in  it,  be  for  the  glory  of  God ;  I  own 

12  A    CHURCH    IN    THE    HOUSE, 

him  to  be  my  great  Landlord,  and  I  hold  all 
from  and  under  him  :  to  him  I  promise  to  ren- 
der daily  praises  and  thanksgivings  ;  and  to  do 
the  services,  the  easy  services  of  gospel  obe- 
dience. Let  holiness  to  the  Lord  be  written 
upon  the  house  and  all  the  furniture  of  it,  ac- 
cording to  the  word  which  God  has  spokenr. 
Zech.  14  :  20,  ^.  Let  God  by  his  providence 
dispose  of  the  affairs  of  my  family,  and  by  his 
gTace  dispose  the  affections  of  all  my  house- 
hold, according  to  his  will,  to  his  own  praise. 
Let  me  and  mine  be  only,  wholly,  and  for 
ever  his. 

Be  persuaded,  brethren,  thus  to  dedicate 
your  houses  to  God,  and  beg  of  him  to  come 
and  take  possession  of  them.  If  you  never  did 
it,  do  it  to-night  with  all  possible  seriousness 
and  sincerity.  "  Lift  up  your  heads,  O  ye 
gates,  and  be  ye  lift  up,  ye  everlasting  doors, 
and  the  King  of  Glory  shall  come  in."  Bring 
the  ark  of  the  Lord  into  the  tent  you  have 
pitched,  and  oblige  yourselves  and  all  yours 
to  attend  it.     Look  upon  your  houses  as  tem- 

OR    FAMILY    RELKilON.  13 

pies  for  God,  places  for  worsMp,  and  all  your 
possessions  as  dedicated  things,  to  be  used  for 
God's  honor,  and  not  to  be  alienated  or  pro- 

2.  There  are  three  things  necessary  to  the 
well  being  of  a  church,  and  which  are  most 
considerable  in  the  constitution  of  it.  Those 
are  doctrine,  icorsJup,  and  'discipline.  Where 
the  truths  of  Christ  are  professed  and  taught, 
the  ordinances  of  Christ  administered  and  ob- 
served, and  due  care  taken  to  put  the  laws  of 
Christ  in  execution  among  all  who  profess 
themselves  his  subjects,  and  this  under  the  con- 
duct and  inspection  of  a  gospel  ministry,  there 
is  a  church  :  and  somethino:  answerable  here- 
unto  there  must  be  in  our  families,  to  denomi- 
nate them  little  churches.  Masters  of  families, 
who  preside  in  the  other  affairs  of  the  house, 
nmst  go  before  their  households  in  the  things 
of  God.  They  must  be  as  prophets,  priests 
and  kings  in  their  own  families ;  and  as  such 
they  must  keep  up  family  doctrine,  family  wor- 


..14  A    CHURCH    IN    THE    HOUSE, 

ship,  and  family  discipline :  then  is  there  a 
church  in  the  house,  and  this  is  the  family  re- 
ligion that  I  am  persuading  you  to. 

(1.)  Keep  up  family  doctrine.  It  is  not 
enough  that  you  and  yours  profess  to  own  the 
truth  as  it  is  in  Jesus ;  care  must  be  taken  and 
means  used  that  you  and  yours  be  well  ac» 
quainted  with  that  truth,  and  that  you  grow  in 
that  acquaintance,  to  the  honor  of  Christ  and 
his  holy  religion,  and  the  improvement  of  your 
own  minds,  and  theirs  who  are  under  your 
charge.  You  must  deal  with  your  families  as 
men  of  knowledge^  1  Pet.  3:7;  that  is,  as  men 
who  desire  to  grow  in  knowledge  yourselves, 
and  to  communicate  your  knowledge  for  the 
benefit  of  others,  which  are  the  two  good  pro- 
perties of  those  who  deserve  to  be  called  men 
of  knowledge.  That  you  may  keep  family  doc- 

You  must  read  the  Scriptures  to  your  fami- 
lies, in  a  solemn  manner,  requiring  their  attend- 
ance on  your  reading,  and  their  attention  to  it; 
and  inquiring  sometimes  whether  they  under- 

OB    FAMILY    RKLKilON'.  15 

Stand  what  you  read  1  I  hope  none  of  you  are 
without  Bibles  in  your  houses,  store  of  Bibles, 
a  Bible  for  every  member :  thanks  be  to  God 
we  have  them  cheap  and  common  in  a  lan- 
guage that  we  understand.  The  book  of  the 
law  is  not  such  a  rarity  as  it  was  in  Josiah's 
time.  We  need  not  brino^  this  knowledore 
from  afar,  nor  send  from  sea  to  sea,  and  from 
the  river  to  the  ends  of  the  earth,  to  seek  the 
word  of  God  ;  no,  the  Word  is  nigh  us.  When 
Popery  reigned  in  our  land,  English  Bibles 
were  scarce  things ;  a  load  of  hay,  it  is  said, 
was  once  given  for  one  torn  leaf  of  a  Bible. 
But  now  Bibles  are  every  one's  money.  It  is 
better  to  be  without  bread  in  your  houses  than 
without  Bibles,  for  the  words  of  God's  mouth 
are  and  should  be  to  you  more  than  your  ne- 
cessary food. 

But  what  will  it  avail  you  to  have  Bibles  in 
your  houses,  if  you  do  not  use  them  1 — to  have 
the  grjcat  things  of  God's  law  and  gospel 
wiitten  to  you,  if  you  count  them  as  a  strange 
thing?     You  look  daily  into  your  shop-booka, 

16  A   CHURCH    IN    THE    HOUSE, 

and  perhaps  converse  much  with  the  news- 
books,  and  shall  your  Bibles  be  thrown  by  as 
an  almanac  out  of  date  1  It  is  not  now  penal 
to  read  the  Scriptures  in  your  families,  as  it 
was  in  the  dawning  of  the  day  of  reformation 
from  popery,  when  there  were  those  who  were 
accused  and  prosecuted  for  reading  in  a  certain 
great  heretical  book  called  an  English  Bible. 
The  Philistines  do  not  now  stop  up  these  wells, 
as  Gen.  26  :  18  ;  nor  do  the  shepherds  drive 
away  your  flocks  from  them,  as  Exod.  2:11 ; 
nor  are  they  as  a  spring  shut  up,  or  a  fountain 
sealed.  You  have  great  encouragements  to 
read  the  Scripture ;  for  notwithstanding  the 
malicious  endeavors  of  atheists  to  vilify  sacred 
things,  the  knowledge  of  the  Scripture  is  still 
in  reputation  with  all  wise  and  good  men 
You  have  also  a  variety  of  excellent  help  to 
understand  the  Scripture,  and  to  improve  your 
reading  of  it ;  so  that  if  you  or  yours  perish 
for  lack  of  this  knowledge,  as  you  certainly 
will  if  you  persist  in  the  neglect  of  it,  the  guilt 
will  lie  at  your  own  doors. 


Let  me,  therefore,  with  all  earnestness  press 
it  upon  you  to  make  the  solemn  reading  of  the 
Scripture  a  part  of  your  daily  worship  in  I'-our 
families.  When  you  speak  to  God  by  prayer, 
he  willing  to  hear  him  speak  to  you  in  his 
word,  that  there  may  be  communion  between 
you  and  God.  This  will  add  much  to  the  so- 
lemnity of  your  family  worship,  and  will  make 
the  transaction  the  more  serious  and  impres- 
sive, if  it  be  done  in  a  right  manner ;  which 
will  conduce  much  to  the  honor  of  God  and 
your  own  and  your  family's  edification.  It 
will  help  to  make  the  word  of  God  familiar  to 
yourselves,  your  children  and  household,  that 
you  may  be  ready  and  mighty  in  the  Scrip- 
tures, and  may  thence  he  thoroughly  furnished 
for  every  good  word  and  work.  It  will  like- 
wise furnish  you  with  matter  and  words  for 
prayer,  and  so  be  helpful  to  you  in  other  parts 
of  the  service. 

If  some  pai-ts  of  Scripture  seem  less  edifying, 
let  those  be  most  frequently  read  that  are  most 
80.     David's  Psalms  are  of  daily  use  in  devo- 

18  A    CHURCH    IN    THE    HOUSE, 

tion,  and  Solomon's  Proverbs  in  conversation ; 
it  will  be  greatly  to  your  advantage  to  be  well 
versed  in  them.  And  I  hope  I  need  not  press 
any  christian  to  the  study  of  the  New  Testa- 
ment, nor  any  christian  parents  to  the  frequent 
instructing  of  their  children  in  the  pleasant 
and  profitable  histories  of  the  Old  Testament. 
When  you  only  hear  your  children  read  the 
Bible,  they  are  tempted  to  look  upon  it  as  no 
more  than  a  school-book ;  but  when  they  hear 
you  read  it  to  them  in  a  solemn  religious  man- 
ner, it  comes,  as  it  ought,  with  more  authori- 
ty. Those  masters  of  families  who  make  con- 
science of  doing  this  daily,  morning  and  even- 
ing, reckoning  it  part  of  the  duty  of  every  day, 
I  am  sure  have  comfoft  and  satisfaction  in  so 
doing,  and  find  it  contributes  much  to  their 
own  improvement  in  christian  knowledge  and 
the  edification  of  those  who  dwell  under  their 
shadow ;  and  the  more,  if  those  who  are  able 
expound,  and  others  read  some  plain  and  pro- 
fitable exposition  of  what  is  read,  or  of  some 
part  of  it. 


It  is  easy  to  add  under  tliis  head,  that  the 
seasonable  reading  of  other  good  books  will 
contribute  very  much  to  family  instruction.  Tn 
helps  of  this  kind  we  are  as  happy  as  any  people 
under  the  sun,  if  we  have  but  hearts  to  use  the 
helps  we  have,  as  those  who  must  give  an  ac- 
count shortly  of  them  among  other  talents  with 
which  we  are  intrusted. 

You  must  also  catechise  your  children  and 
household.  Let  them  learn  some  good  cate- 
chism by  heart,  and  keejD  it  in  remembrance ; 
and  by  familiar  discourse  with  them  help  them 
to  understand  it,  as  they  become  capable.  It 
is  an  excellent  method  of  catechising,  which 
God  himself  directs  us  to,  Deut.  6  r^?  ;  to  teach 
our  children  the  things  of  God,  by  talking  of 
tiiem  as  we  sit  in  the  house  and  go  by  the 
way,  when  we  lie  down,  and  when  we  rise  up. 
It  is  good  to  keep  up  stated  times  for  this  ser- 
vice, and  be  constant  to  them,  as  those  who 
know  how  industrious  the  enemy  is  to  sow 
tares  while  men  sleep.  If  this  good  work  be 
not  kept  going  forward,  it    will   of  itself  go 

20  A    CHURCH    IN    THE    HOUSE, 

backward.  Wisdom  also  will  direct  you  to 
manage  your  catechising,  as  well  as  the  other 
branches  of  family  religion,  so  as  not  to  make 
it  a  task  and  burthen,  but  as  much  as  may  be  a 
pleasure  to  those  under  your  charge,  that  the 
blame  may  lie  upon  their  own  impiety,  and  not 
upon  your  imprudence,  if  they  should  say, 
''Behold  what  a  weariness  is  it !" 

This  way  of  instruction  by  catechising  be- 
longs in  a  special  manner  to  the  **  church  in 
the  house ;"  for  that  is  the  nursery  in  which 
the  trees  of  righteousness  are  reared  that  af- 
terwards are  planted  in  the  courts  of  our  God. 
Public  catechising  will  turn  to  little  account 
without  family  catechising.  The  labor  of  min- 
isters in  instructing  youth,  and  feeding  the 
lambs  of  the  flock,  proves  to  many  labor  in 
vain,  because  heads  of  families  do  not  do  their 
duty  in  preparing  them  for  public  instruction, 
and  examining  their  improvement  by  it.  As 
mothers  are  children's  best  nurses,  so  parents 
are  or  should  be  their  best  teachers.  Solo- 
mon's father  was  his  tutor,  Prov.  4  :  3,  4,  and 


he  never  forgot  the  lessons  his  mother  taught 
him,  Prov.  31  :  1. 

The  early  consecration  of  your  children  in 
prayer  and  faith  to  God,  as  it  lays  a  strong  and 
lasting  obligation  upon  them  to  live  in  the  fear 
of  God,  so  it  brings  you  under  the  most  power- 
ful engagements  imaginable  to  bring  them  up 
in  that  fear.  The  child  you  gave  up  to  God,  Ji^ 
God  as  it  w^ere  gave  back  to  you,  w^ith  the 
same  charge  that  Pharaoh's  daughter  gave  to 
Moses'  mother,  Tahe  this  cMld  and  'nurse  it 
for  me ;  and  in  nursing  it  for  God  you  nurse 
it  for  better  preferment  than  that  of  being 
called  the  son  of  Pharaoh's  daughter.  It  is 
worth  observing,  that  he  to  whom  God  first 
did  the  honor  of  covenanting  blessings  upon 
his  seed,  was  eminent  for  this  part  of  family- 
religion  :  "  I  know  Abraham,  that  he  will  com- 
mand his  children  and  his  household  after  him 
to  keep  the  way  of  the  Lord."  Gen.  18  :  19. 
Those,  therefore,  who  would  have  the  comfort 
of  God's  covenant  with  them  and  their  seed, 
and  would  share  in  that  blessing  of  Abraham 

22  A    CHURCH    IN    THE    HOUSE, 

which  comes  upon  the  Gentiles,  must  herein 
follow  the  example  of  faithful  Abraham.  The 
covenant  of  grace  is  forfeited,  if  care  be  not 
taken  with  it  to  transmit  the  means  of  grace. 
To  what  purpose  are  they  discipled  if  they  be 
not  taught  ?  God  expects  that  they  should  be 
brought  up  for  him. 

Consider  what  your  children  are  now  capa- 
ble of,  even  in  the  days  of  their  childhood. 
They  are  capable  of  receiving  impressions  now 
which  may  abide  upon  them  while  they  live  ; 
they  are  turned  as  clay  to  the  seal,  and  now  is 
the  time  to  apply  to  them  the  seal  of  the  Liv- 
ing God.  They  are  capable  of  honoring  God 
now,  if  they  be  well  taught ;  and  by  their  join- 
ing, as  they  can,  in  religious  services  with  so 
much  reverence  and  application  as  their  age 
will  admit,  God  is  honored,  and  you  in  them 
present  living  sacrifices,  holy  and  acceptable. 
The  hosannas  even  of  children  well  taught 
will  be  the  perfecting  of  praise,  and  highly 
pleasing  to  the  Lord  Jesus. 

Consider  what  your  children  are  designed 


for,  we  hope,  in  this  world ;  they  must  be  a 
seed  to  serve  the  Lord,  which  shall  be  account- 
ed to  him  for  a  generation.  They  are  to  bear 
up  the  name  of  Christ  in  their  day,  and  into 
their  hands  must  be  transmitted  that  good  thing 
which  is  committed  to  us.  They  are  to  be 
praising  God  on  earth  when  we  are  praising 
him  in  heaven.  Let  them  then  be  brought  up 
apcordingly,  that  they  may  answer  the  end  of- 
their  birth  and  being.  They  are  designed  for 
the  service  of  their  generation,  and  to  do  good 
in  their  day.  Consult  the  public  welfare,  then, 
and  let  nothing  be  wanting  on  your  part  to 
qualify  them  for  usefulness,  according  to  their 
place  and  capacity.  « 

Consider  especially  what  they  are  designed 
for  in  another  world  :  they  are  made  for  eter- 
nity. Every  child  you  have  has  a  precious  and 
immortal  soul  that  must  be  for  ever  either  in 
heaven  or  hell,  according  as  it  is  prepared  in 
this  present  state ;  and,  perhaps,  it  must  re- 
move to  that  world  of  spirits  very  shortly  :  and 
will  it  not  be  very  mournful,  if,  through  your 

24  A    CHURCH    IN    THE    HOUSE, 

carelessness  and  neglect,  your  children  should 
learn  the  ways  of  sin,  and  perish  eternally  in 
those  ways  1  Give  them  warning,  that,  if  possi- 
ble, you  may  deliver  their  souls ;  at  least  that 
you  may  deliver  your  own,  and  may  not  bring 
their  curse  and  God's  too,  their  blood  and  your 
own  too,  upon  your  heads. 

I  know  that  you  cannot  give  grace  to  your 
children,  nor  is  a  religious  life  always  the  re- 
result  of  a  religious  education ;  "  The  race  is 
not "  always  "to  the  swift,  nor  the  battle  to  the 
strong  :"  but  if  you  make  conscience  of  doing 
your  duty  by  family-instruction,  if  you  teach 
them  the  good  and  the  right  way,  and  warn 
them  of  by-paths ;  if  you  reprove,  exhort  and 
encourage  them  as  there  is  occasion ;  if  you 
pray  with  them,  and  for  them,  and  set  them  a 
good  example,  and  consult  their  souls'  welfare 
in  your  arrangements  for  them,  you  have  done 
your  part,  and  may  comfortably  leave  the  issue 
and  success  with  God. 

(2.)  .Keep  wp  family  icorship.  You  must  not 
only  as  Prophets  teach  your  families,  but  as 

OR    lAMri.Y    RELIGION".  25 

Priests  must  go  before  them,  in  offering  the 
spiritual  sacrifices  of  prayer  and  praise.  Here- 
in likewise  y(^u  must  tread  in  the  steps  of  faith- 
ful Abraham,  whose  sons  you  are  while  thus 
you  do  well ;  you  must  not  only,  like  him,  in- 
struct your  household,  but,  like  him,  3'ou  must 
with  them  call  on  the  name  of  the  Lord,  the 
everlastinof  God.  Gen.  21  :  33.  Wherever  he 
pitched  his  tent,  there  he  built  an  altar  unto 
the  Lord,  Gen.  12  :  7,  8 ;  14  :  4,  18,  though 
he  was  yet  in  an  unsettled  state,  only  a  stranger 
and  a  sojourner;  though  he  was  among  jealous 
and  envious  neighbors,  for  the  Canaanite  and 
the  Perizzite  dwelled  then  in  the  land,  yet, 
wherever  Abraham  had  a  tent  God  had  an 
altar  in  it,  and  he  himself  served  at  that  altar. 
Herein  he  has  left  us  an  example. 

Families,  as  such,  have  many  eiTands  at  the 
throne  of  grace,  which  furnish  them  with  mat- 
ter and  occasion  for  family-prayer  every  day ; 
errands  which  cannot  be  done  so  well,  in  se- 
cret,— or,  public, — but  are  fittest  to  be  done 
by  the  family  in  concert,  and  apart  from  other 

26  A    CHURCH    IN    THE    HOUSE, 

families.  And  it  is  good  for  tliose  who  lead  in 
family- devotions,  ordinarily  to  dwell  most  upon 
the  concerns  of  those  who  join  in  their  family- 
capacity,  that  it  may  be  indeed  a  family-prayer, 
not  only  offered  up  in  and  by  the  family,  but 
suited  to  it.  In  this  and  other  services  we 
should  endeavor  not  only  to  say  something," 
but  something  to  the  purpose. 

Five  things  especially  you  should  have  upon 
your  heart  in  your  family-prayer,  and  should 
endeavor  to  bring  something  of  each,  more  or 
less,  into  every  prayer  with  your  families. 

You  ought  to  make  family -acknowledgments 
of  your  dc'pendaiice  tipon  God  and  his  'providence. 
Our  great  business  in  all  acts  of  religious  wor- 
ship, is  to  give  unto  the  Lord  the  glory  due 
unto  his  name ;  and  this  we  must  do  in  our 
family- worship.  Give  honor  to  God  as  the 
founder  of  families  by  his  ordinance,  because 
"  it  was  not  good  for  man  to  be  alone ;"  as  the 
founder  of  your  families  by  his  providence,  for 
he  it  is  *'  who  buildeth  the  house  and  setteth 
the  solitary  in  families."  Give  honor  to  him  as 


the  o^vner  and  r#er  of  families  ;  acknowledge 
that  you  and  yours  are  his,  under  his  govern- 
ment, and  at  his  disposal,  "  as  the  gheep  of  his 
pasture."  Especially  adore  him  as  the  "  God 
of  all  the  families  of  Israel,"  in  covenant  re- 
lation to  them,  and  having  a  particular  concern 
for  them  above  others.  Jer.  31  :  1.  Give  honor 
to  the  great  Redeemer  as  the  head  of  all  the 
churches,  even  those  in  your  houses ;  call 
him  the  Master  of  the  family,  and  the  great 
upholder  and  benefactor  of  it ;  for  he  it  is  in 
whom  all  the  families  of  the  earth  are  blessed. 
Gen.  12  :  3.  All  family-blessings  are  owing  to 
Christ,  and  come  to  us  through  his  hand  by  his 
blood.  Own  your  dependance  upon  God,  and 
your  obligations  to  Christ  for  all  good  things 
pertaining  both  to  life  and  godliness ;  and  make 
conscience  of  paying  homage  to  your  chief 
Lord,  and  never  set  up  a  title  to  any  of  your 
enjoyments  in  competition  with  his. 

You  ought  to  vcid^e  family -confessions  of  your 
sins  against  God;  those  sins  you  have  contract- 
ed the  guilt  of  in  your  family-capacity.  Wo 

28  A    CHURCH    IN    THE    HOUSE, 

read  in  Scripture  of  the  iniquity  of  the  liouse^ 
as  of  Eli's.  1  Sam.  3  :  13,  14.  Iniquity  visited 
upon  the  children ;  sins  that  bring  wrath  upon 
families,  and  a  curse  that  enters  into  the  house 
to  consume  it,  with  the  timber  thereof,  and  the 
stones  thereof.  Zech.  5  :  4.  How  sad  is  the 
condition  of  those  families  who  sin  together ^"^ 
and  never  pray  together  J  who,  by  concurring^ 
in  frauds,  quarrels,  e,iid  excesses,  by  strength- 
ening one  anotiier's  hands  in  impiety  and  pro- 
faneness,  fill  the  measure  of  family-guilt,  and 
never  agree  together  to  do  any  thing  to  obtain 
mercy  from  God. 

And  even  religious  families,  that  are  not 
polluted  with  gross  and  scandalous  sins,  yet 
have  need  to  join  every  day  in  solemn  acts  and 
expressions  of  repentance  before  God  for  their 
sins  of  daily  infirmity.  Their  vain  words  and 
unprofitable  conversation  amo^g  themselves ; 
their  manifold  defects  in  relative  duties,  pro- 
voking one  another's  lusts  and  passions,  in- 
stead of  provoking  one  another  to  love  and  to 
good  works  :  these  ought  to  be  confessed  and 


bewailed  by  the  family  together,  tliat  God  may 
be  glorified,  and  what  has  been  amiss  may  be 
amended  for  the  future.  It  was  not  only  in  a 
time  of  great  and  extraordinary  repentance 
that  families  mourned  apart,  (Zech.  12  :  11,)  but 
on  the  stated  returns  of  the  day  of  expiation 
the  priest  was  particularly  to  make  atonement 
for  his  household.  Lev.  16  :  17.  In  many 
things  we  all  offend  God  and  one  another; 
and  a  penitent  confession  of  it  in  prayer  to- 
gether will  be  the  most  effectual  way  of  recon- 
ciling ourselves  both  to  God  and  to  one  an- 
other. The  best  families,  and  those  in  which 
piety  and  love  prevail  most,  yet  in  many 
things  come  short,  and  do  enough  every  day 
to  bring  them  upon  their  knees  at  night. 

You  ought  to  offer  up  family -thanksgivings 
for  the  blessings  which  you,  with  your  fami- 
lies, receive  from  God.  Many  are  the  mercies 
which  you  enjoy  the  sweetness  and  benefit  of 
in  common;  of  which,  if  wanting  to  one,  all  the 
family  would  be  sensible.  Has  not  God  made 
a   hedge   of  protection    about   you    and    your 

houq^s,   and   all  that  you  have  1    Job,  1  :  10. 


30  A    CHURCH    IN    THE    HOUSE, 

Has  he  not  created  a  defence  upon  every 
"  dwelling-place  "  of  Mount  Zion,  as  well  as 
upon  her  assemblies  1  Isa.  4  :  5.  The  dreadful 
alarms  of  a  storm,  and  the  desolations  made, 
as  by  a  fire,  once  in  an  age,  should  make  us 
sensible  of  our  obligations  to  divine  Providence 
for  our  preservation  from  tempests  and  fire 
every  day  and  every  night.  ''It  is  of  the  Lord's 
mercies  that  we  are  not  consumed,"  and  buried 
in  the  ruins  of  our  houses.  When  the  whole 
family  comes  together  safe  in  the  morning  from 
their  respective  retirements,  and  when  they  re- 
turn safe  at  night  from  their  respective  em- 
ployments, there  having  been  no  disaster,  no 
*'  adversary,"  no  evil  occurrence, — it  is  so  rea- 
sonable and  as  I  may  say  so  natural  for  them 
to  join  together  in  solemn  thanksgivings  to 
their  gi'eat  Protector,  that  I  wonder  how  any 
who  believe  in  a  God  and  a  Providence  can 
omit  it.  Have  you  not  health  in  your  family, 
sickness  kept  or  taken  from  the  midst  of  you  1 
Does  not  God  bring  plentifully  into  your  hands 
and  increase  your  substance  1  Have  you  not 
your  table  spread,  and  your  cup  running  over, 


and  manna  rained  about  your  tents  ?  and  does 
not  the  whole  family  share  in  the  comfort  of 
all  this  *?  Shall  not  then  the  voice  of  thanks- 
giving be  in  those  taberaacles  where  is  the 
voice  of  rejoicing  1  Ps.  118  :  15.  Is  the  vine 
by  the  house-side  fruitful  and  flourishing,  and 
are  the  olive  plants  round  the  table  green  and 
growing  ?  Are  family-relations  comfortable  and 
agreeable,  not  broken  nor  embittered,  and  shall 
not  God  be  acknowledged  herein,  who  makes 
every  creature  to  be  what  it  is  to  us  1  Shall 
not  the  God  of  your  mercies,  your  family-mer- 
ries, be  the  God  of  your  praises,  your  family- 
praises,  and  that  daily  ? 

The  benefit  and  honor  of  your  being  chris- 
tian families,  your  having  in  God's  house,  and 
within  his  walls,  a  place  and  a  name  better  than 
that  of  sons  and  daughters,  and  the  salvation 
this  brings  to  your  house,  furnishes  you  with 
abundant  matter  for  joint  thanksgivings.  "  You 
hath  he  known  above  all  the  families  of  the 
earth,"  and  therefore  he  expects  in  a  special 
manner  to  be  owned  by  you.  Of  all  houses, 
the  house  of  Israel,  the  house  of  Aaron  and 

32  A    CHURCH    IN    THE    HOUSE, 

the  house  of  Levi  have  most  reason  to  bless 
the  Lord,  and  to  say,  '*  His  mercy  endure th 
for  ever." 

You  ought  to  present  your  family-fetitions 
for  the  mercy  and  grace  which  your  families 
need.  Daily  bread  is  received  by  families  to- 
gether, and  we  are  taught  not  only  to  pray  for 
it  every  day,  but  to  pray  together  for  it,  saying, 
Our  Father^  give  it  us.  There  are  affairs  and 
employments  in  which  the  family  is  jointly 
concerned,  and  therefore  should  jointly  ask 
of  God  wisdom  for  the  management  of  them, 
and  prosperity  therein.  There  are  family-cares 
to  be  cast  upon  God  by  prayer,  family-com- 
forts to  be  sought,  and  family- crosses  which 
they  should  together  beg  him  to  sanctify  and 
remove.  Hereby  your  children  will  be  more 
effectually  possessed  with  a  belief  of,  and  re- 
gard to  the  divine  Providence,  than  by  all  the 
instructions  you  can  give  them ;  which  will  look 
best  in  their  eye  when  thus  reduced  to  prac- 
tice by  your  daily  acknowledging  God  in  all 
your  ways. 

You  desire  that  God  will  give  wisdom  and 

OR    FAMILY    RELiraOX.  33 

f2^race  to  your  chiklreTi,  you  "  travail  in  birth 
again  till  you  see  Christ  forraed  in  them,"  you 
pray  for  them ;  it  is  well,  but  it  is  not  enougli; 
you  must  pray  with  them ;  let  them  hear  you 
pray  to  God  for  a  blessing  upon  the  good  in- 
instructions  and  counsels  you  give  them ;  it 
may  perhaps  lead  them  to  pray  for  themselves, 
and  increase  their  esteem  both  of  you  and  of  the 
good  lessons  you  teach  them.  You  would  have 
your  servants  diligent  and  faithful,  and  this  per- 
haps would  helj)  to  make  them  so.  Masters  do 
not  give  to  their  servants  that  which  is  just  and. 
equal,  if  they  do  not  continue  in  prayer  with 
them.    They  are  put  together,  Col.  4  :  1,  2. 

There  are  some  temptations  which  families, 
as  such,  lie  open  to.  Busy  families  are  in  temp-  | 
tation  to  worldliness  and  neglect  of  religious 
duties;  mixed  families  are  in  temptation  to 
discord  and  mutual  jealousies;  decaying  fami- 
lies are  in  temptation  to  distrust,  discontent, 
and  indirect  courses  to  help  themselves  :  they 
should  therefore  not  only  watch,  but  pray  to- 
gether that  they  be  not  overcome  by  the  temp- 
tations they  are  exposed  to. 

34  A    CnURCII    IN    THE    HOUSE, 

There  are  family-blessings  which  God  has 
promised,  and  for  which  he  will  be  sought  un- 
to, such  as  those  on  the  house  of  Obed-edom 
for  the  ark^s  sake;  or  the  mercy  which  the 
apostle  Paul  begs  for  the  house  of  Onesipho- 
rus.  2  Tim.  1  :  16.  These  joint  blessings  must 
be  sought  by  joint  prayers.  There  is  a  special* 
blessing  which  God  commands  upon  families 
that  dwell  together  in  unity,  Ps.  133  :  1,  3, 
which  they  must  seek  for  by  prayer,  and  come 
together  to  seek  for  it,  in  token  of  that  unity 
which  qualifies  for  it.  Where  God  commands 
the  blessing  we  must  beg  the  blessing.  God 
by  promise  blesses  David's  house,  and  there- 
fore David,  by  prayer,  blesses  it  too.  2  Sam. 
C  :  20. 

You  ought  also  to  make  family -i7ifer cessions 
for  others.  There  are  families  you  stand  relat- 
ed to,  or  which,  by  neighborhood,  friendship  or 
acquaintance,  you  become  interested  in,  and 
concerned  for ;  and  these  you  should  recom- 
mend in  your  prayers  to  the  grace  of  God,  and 
your  family  that  are  joined  to  you  in  the  rela- 
tion should  join  you  in  those  prayers.    Evil 


tidings  perhaps  are  received  from  relations  at  a 
distance,  which  are  the  grief  of  the  family;  God 
must  then  be  sought  unto  by  the  family  for 
succor  and  deliverance.  Some  of  the  branches 
of  the  family  are,  perhaps,  in  distant  countries 
and  in  dangerous  circumstances,  and  you  are 
solicitous  about  them ;  it  will  be  a  comfort  to 
yourselves,  as  well  as  of  advantage  to  them,  to 
make  mention  of  them  daily  in  your  family- 
prayers.  The  benefit  of  jDrayer  will  reach  far, 
because  He  who  hears  prayer  can  extend  his 
hand  of  power  and  mercy  to  the  utmost  corners 
of  the  earth,  and  to  them  that  are  afar  off  upon 
the  sea. 

In  the  public  peace  likewise  we  and  our 
families  have  j^eace ;  and  therefore  if  we  forget 
thee,  O  Jerusalem,  we  are  unworthy  ever  to 
stand  in  thy  courts  or  dwell  within  thy  walls. 
Our  families  should  be  witnesses  for  us  that 
^vc  pray  daily  for  our  land  and  the  prosperity 
of  all  its  interests  ;  that  praying  every  where 
we  make  supplication  for  our  rulers  and  all  in 
authority.  1  Tim.  2  :  3,  8.  That  we  bear  upon 
our   hearts    the    concerns    of    (lod's     church 

36  A    CHURCH    IN    THE    HOUSE, 

abroad,    especially    the    suffering   parts   of  it 
Thus  keeping  up  a  spiritual  communion  with 
all  the  families  that  in  every  place  call  on  the 
name  of  the  Lord  Jesus. 

In  a  word,  let  us  go  by  this  rule  in  our  fami 
ly-devotions ;  whatever  is  the  matter  of  oui 
care,  let  it  be  the  matter  of  our  prayer ;  and 
let  us  allow  no  care  which  we  cannot  in  faith 
spread  before  God :  and  whatever  is  the  mat 
ter  of  our  rejoicing,  let  it  be  the  matter  of  our 
thanksgiving ;  and  let  us  withhold  our  hearts 
from  all  those  joys  which  do  not  dispose  us  for 
the  duty  of  praise. 

Under  this  head  of  family-worship  I  must 
not  omit  to  recommend  to  you  the  singing  of 
fsalms  in  your  families,  as  a  part  of  daily  wor- 
ship, especially  Sabbath  worship.  This  is  a 
part  of  religious  worship  which  participates 
both  of  the  word  and  prayer ;  for  therein  we 
are  not  only  to  give  glory  to  God,  but  to  teach 
and  admonish  one  another;  it  is  therefore  very 
proper  to  make  it  a  transition  from  the  one  to 
the  other.  It  will  warm  and  quicken  you,  re- 
fresh and  comfort  you ;    and    perhaps  if  you 


have  little  children  in  your  houses,  they  will 
sooner  take  notice  of  it  than  of  any  other  2>aTt 
of  your  family  devotion ;  and  some  good  im- 
pressions may  thereby  be  fastened  upon  them 

(3.)  Keep  up  family -discipline,  that  so  you 
may  have  a  complete  church  in  your  house, 
though  a  snrall  one.  Reason  teaches  us  that 
every  man  should  bear  rule  in  his  own  house. 
Esth.  1  :  22.  And  since  this,  as  well  as  other 
power  is  of  God,  it  ought  to  be  employed  for 
God  ,••  and  they  who  so  rule  must  be  just,  ruling 
in  his  fear.  Joshua  looked  further  than  the 
acts  of  religious  worship  when  he  made  that 
pious  resolution,  "As  for  me  and  my  house, 
we  will  serve  the  Lord."  Josh.  24  :  15.  For 
we  do  not  serve  him  in  sincerity  and  truth, 
which  is  the  service  he  speaks  of,  ver.  14,  if 
we  and  ours  serve  him  only  on  our  knees,  and 
do  not  take  care  to  serve  him  in  a  rclii^ious 
life.  Those  only  who  have  clean  hands  and  a 
pure  heart  are  accounted  the  generation  of 
them  that  seek  God.  Ps.  24  :  4,  6.    And  with- 


38  A    CHURCH    IN    THE    HOUSE, 

out  this,  those  who  pretend  to  seek  God  daily 
do  but  mock  him.   Isa.  58  :  2. 

The  authority  God  has  given  over  your  chil- 
dren and  household  is  principally  designed  for 
this  end,  that  you  may  thereby  engage  them 
for  God  and.  godliness.  If  you  use  it  only  to 
oblige  them  to  do  your  will,  and  so  to  serve  your* 
pride  ;  and  to  do  your  business,  and  so  to  serve 
your  worldliness ;  you  do  not  answer  the  great 
end  of  your  being  invested  with  it :  you  must 
use  it  for  God's  honor,  by  it  to  engage  them 
as  far  as  you  can  to  do  the  will  of  God  and 
mind  the  business  of  religion.  Holy  David  not 
only  blessed  his  household,  but  took  care  to 
keep  good  order  in  it,  as  appears  by  that  plan 
of  his  family  discipline  which  we  have  in  the 
101st  Psalm,  a  psalm  which  Mr.  Fox  tells  us 
that  blessed  martyr  Bishop  Ridley  often  read 
to  his  family,  as  the  rule  by  which  he  resolved 
to  govern  it. 

You  are  made  keepers  of  the  vineyard;  be 
faithful  to  your  trust,  and  carefully  watch  over 
those  who  are  under  your  charge,  knowing 
you  must  give  account. 


Countenance  every  tli'ina;  that  is  Q;ood  and 
praiseworth }j  in  your  children  and  domestics,  { 
It  is  as  much  your  dutyto  commend  and  en-  V 
courage  those  in  your  family  who  do  well,  as  to 
reprove  and  admonish  those  who  do  amiss ;  and 
if  you  take  delight  only  in  blaming  that  which 
is  culpable,  and  are  backward  to  praise  that 
which  is  laudable,  you  give  occasion  to  suspect 
something  of  an  ill  nature,  not  becominsr  a 
good  man,  much  less  a  good  christian.  It 
should  be  a  trouble  to  us  when  we  have  a  re- 
proof to  give,  but  a  pleasure  to  us  to  say  with 
the  apostle,  "Now  I  praise  you."  1  Cor.  11  :  2. 

Most  people  will  be  easier  led  than  driven, 
and  we  all  love  to  be  spoken  to  kindly :  when 
you  see  any  thing  that  is  hopeful  and  promis- 
ing in  those  under  your  charge,  any  thing  of  a 
towardly  and  tractable  disposition,  much  more 
any  thing  of  a  pious  affection  to  the  things  of 
God,  you  should  contrive  to  encourage  it. 
Smile  upon  them  when  you  see  them  set  their 
faces  heavenwards,  and  take  the  first  opportu- 
nity to  let  them  know  you  observe  it,  and  are 
well  pleased  with  it,  and  do  not  despise  the  day 

40  A    CHURCH    IN    THE    HOUSE, 

of  small  tilings.  This  will  quicken  them  to 
continue  and  abound  in  that  which  is  good,  it 
will  encourage  them  against  the  difficulties 
they  see  in  their  way,  and  perhaps  may  turn 
the  wavering,  trembling  scale  the  right  way, 
and  effectually  determine  their  resolutions  to 
cleave  to  the  Lord.  When  you  see  them  for-, 
ward  to  come  to  family- worship,  attentive  to 
the  word,  devout  in  prayer,  industrious  to  get 
knowledge,  afraid  of  sin,  and  careful  to  do 
their  duty,  let  them  have  the  praise  of  it,  for 
you  have  the  comfort  of  it,  and  God  must  have 
all  the  glory.  Draw  them  with  the  cords  of  a 
man,  hold  them  with  the  bands  of  love  ;  so 
shall  your  rebukes,  when  they  are  necessary, 
be  the  more  acceptable  and  effectual.  The 
great  Shepherd  gathers  the  lambs  in  his  arms, 
can-ies  them  in  his  bosom,  and  gently  leads 
them  ;  and  so  should  you. 
I  Discounte7iance  every  thing  that  is  evil  in  your 
f  household.  Use  your  authority  for  the  pre- 
venting of  sin  and  the  suppressing  of  every 
root  of  bitterness,  lest  it  spring  up  and  trouble 
you,  and  thereby  many  be  defiled.  Frown  upon 


every  thing  that  brings  sin  into  your  families> 
and  introduces  ill  words  or  ill  practices.  Pride 
and  passion,  strife  and  contention,  idleness  and 
intemperance,  lying  and  slandering,  these  are 
sins  which  you  must  not  connive  at,  nor  suffer 
to  go  without  a  rebuke.  If  you  return  to  the 
Almighty,  this  among  other  things  is  required 
of  you,  that  you  "  put  away  iniquity,"  all  ini- 
quity, these  and  other  like  iniquities,  "far  from 
your  tabernacle."  Job,  22  :  23.  Make  it  appear 
that  in  the  government  of  your  families  you 
are  more  jealous  for  God's  honor  than  for  your 
own  authority  and  interest ;  and  show  your- 
selves more  displeased  at  that  which  is  an 
offence  to  God,  than  at  that  which  is  only  an 
affront  or  damage  to  yourselves. 

You  must  indeed  be  careful  not  to  provoke 
your  children  to  wrath,  lest  they  be  discou- 
raged ;  and  as  to  your  domestics,  it  is  your  duty 
"to  forbear  or  moderate  threatening  :"  yet  you 
must  also  with  holy  zeal  and  resolution,  and 
the  meekness  of  wisdom,  keep  good  order  in 
your  families,  and  set  no  wicked  thing  before 

their  eyes,  but  witness  against  it.    "A  little 


42  A    CHURCH    IN    THE    HOUSE, 

leaven  leaveneth  the  whole  lump."  Be  afraid 
of  havmg  wicked  servants  in  your  houses,  lest 
your  children  learn  their  way,  and  get  a  snare 
to  their  souls.  Drive  away  with  an  angry 
countenance  all  that  evil  communication  which 
corrupts  good  manners,  that  your  houses  may 
be  habitations  of  righteousness,  and  sin  may, 
never  find  shelter  in  them. 

II.  I  come  now  to  offer  some  motives  to 
persuade  you  thus  to  turn  your  families  into 
little  churches.  And  O  that  I  could  find  out 
acceptable  words  with  which  to  reason  with 
you,  so  as  to  prevail !  Suffer  7ne  a  little,  and  I 
will  show  you  what  is  to  be  said  on  God's  heliaify 
which  is  worth  your  consideration. 

1.  If  your  families  be  little  churches,  God, 
will  come  to  you  and  dwell  with  you  in  them;  iov 
he  has  said  concerning  the  church,  "  This  is 
my  rest  for  ever,  here  will  I  dwell."  It  is  a 
very  desirable  thing  to  have  the  gracious  pre- 
sence of  God  with  us  in  our  families,  that  pre- 
sence which  is  promised  where  two  or  three 
are  gathered  together  in  his  name.    This  was 


it  that  David  was  so  desirous  of.  Ps.  101  :  2. 
"  O  when  wilt  thou  come  unto  me  !  His  pa- 
lace, his  court,  would  be  as  a  prison,  as  a  dun- 
geon to  him,  if  God  did  not  come  to  him  and 
dwell  with  him  in  it ;  and  cannot  your  hearts 
witness  to  this  desire  ?-  you  who  have  houses 
of  your  own,  would  you  not  have  God  come  to 
you  and  dwell  with  you  in  them  ?  Invite  him 
then,  beg  his  presence,  court  his  stay.  Nay,  he 
invites  himself  to  your  houses  by  the  offers  of 
his  favor  and  grace.  BeJwld,  he  stands  at  your 
door  and  knocks :  it  is  the  voice  of  your  beloved, 
open  to  him  and  bid  him  welcome ;  meet  him 
with  your  "  Hosanna,  blessed  is  he  that  com- 
eth."  He  comes  peaceably,  he  brings  a  bless- 
ing with  him,  a  blessing  which  he  will  cause  to 
rest  upon  the  habitations  of  the  righteous. 
Ezek.  44  :  30.  He  will  command  a  blessing, 
which  shall  amount  to  no  less  than  life  for  ever- 
more. Ps.  133  :  3.  This  presence  and  blessing 
of  God  will  make  your  relations  comfortable, 
your  affairs  successful,  your  enjoyments  sweet ; 
and  behold  by  it  all  things  are  made  clean  to 
you.      This   Avill    make   your   family- comforts 

44  A    CHURCH    IN    THE    HOUSE, 

double  comforts,  and  your  family-crosses  but 
half  crosses ;  it  ^vill  turn  a  tent  into  a  temple,  a 
cottage  into  a  palace.  **  Beautiful  for  situation, 
the  joy  of  the  whole  earth,"  are  the  houses  in 
which  God  dwells. 

Now  the  way  to  have  God's  presence  with 
you  in  your  houses  is  to  furnish  them  for  his 
entertainment.  Thus  the  good  Shunamite  invi- 
ted the  prophet  Elisha  to  the  chamber  she  had 
prepared  for  him,  by  accommodating  him  there 
with  a  bed  and  a  table,  a  stool  and  a  candle- 
stick. 2  Kings,  4:10.  Would  you  furnish  your 
houses  for  the  presence  of  God,  it  is  not  ex- 
pected that  you  furnish  them  as  his  tabernacle 
was  of  old  furnished,  with  blue,  and  purple, 
and  scarlet,  and  fine  linen,  but  set  up  and  keep 
for  him  a  throne  and  an  altar,  that  from  the 
altar  you  and  yours  may  give  glory  to  him,  and 
from  the  throne  he  may  give  law  to  you  and 
yours  ;  and  then  you  may  be  sure  of  his  pre- 
sence and  blessing,  and  may  solace  yourselves 
from  day  to  day  in  the  comfort  of  it.  God  will 
be  with  you  in  a  way  of  mercy  while  you  are 
with  him  in  a  way  of  duty ;  "If  you  seek  him 


hd  will  be  found  of  you."  The  secret  of  God 
shall  be  in  your  tabernacle,  as  it  was  on  Job's, 
ch.  29  :  4,  as  it  is  with  the  righteous,  Ps.  25  : 
]  4  ;   Pro.  3  :  32,  33. 

2.  If  you  make  your  houses  little  churches, 
God  u'ill  make  them  his  sanctuaries ;  nay,  he  will  \^ 
iiimself  be  to  you  as  a  sanctuary.  Ezek.  11  : 
IG.  The  way  to  be  safe  in  your  houses,  is  to 
keep  up  religion  and  the  fear  of  God  in  your 
houses ;  so  shall  you  dwell  on  high,  and  "  the 
})lace  of  your  defence  shall  be  the  munition  of 
rocks."  Isa.  33  :  16.  The  law  looks  upon  a 
man's  house  as  his  castle  :  religion  makes  it 
truly  so.  If  God's  grace  be  the  *'  glory  in  the 
midst"  of  the  house,  his  providence  will  make 
a  wall  of  fire  round  about  it.  Zech.  2  :  5.  Sa- 
lan  found  it  to  his  confusion  that  God  made  a 
hedge  about  pious  Job,  about  his  house,  and 
about  all  that  he  had  on  every  side,  so  that  he 
could  not  find  one  gap  by  which  to  break  in 
upon  him.  Job.  1  :  10.  Every  dwelling-place 
of  Mount  Sion  shall  be  protected  as  the  taber- 
nacle was  in  the  wilderness,  for  God  has  pro- 
mised to  create  upon  it  a  cloud  and  smoke  by 

46  A    CHURCH    IN    THE    HOUSE, 

day,  and  the  shining  of  a  flaming  fire  by  night, 
which  shall  be  a  defence  upon  all  the  glory. 
Isa.  4  :  5.  If  we  thus  dwell  in  the  house  of  the 
Lord  all  the  days  of  our  life,  by  making  our 
houses  his  houses,  we  shall  be  hid  in  his  pavi- 
lion, in  the  secret  of  his  tabernacle  shall  he  hide 
us.  Ps.  27  :  4,  5. 

Wherever  we  encamp  under  the  banner  of 
Christ,  the  angels  of  God  will  encamp  round 
about  us,  and  pitch  their  tents  where  we  pitch 
ours  ;  and  we  little  think  how  much  we  owe 
to  the  ministration  of  the  good  angels,  that  we 
and  ours  are  preserved  from  the  malice  of 
evil  angels,  who  are  continually  seeking  to  do 
mischief  to  good  people.  There  are  terrors 
that  fly  by  night  and  by  day,  which  they  only 
who  abide  under  the  shadow  of  the  Almighty 
can  promise  themselves  to  be  safe  from.  Ps. 
91  :  1,  5.  Would  you  insure  your  houses  by 
the  best  policy  of  insurance,  turn  them  into 
churches,  and  then  they  shall  be  taken  under 
the  special  protection  of  Him  who  keeps  Israel, 
and  neither  slumbers  nor  sleeps  ;  and  if  any 
damage  come  to  them,  it  shall  be  made  up  in 


grace  and  glory.  The  way  of  duty  is  without 
doubt  the  way  of  safety. 

Praying  famihes  are  kept  from  more  mis- 
chiefs than  they  themselves  are  aware  of.  They 
are  not  sensible  of  the  distinction  which  a 
kind  Providence  makes  between  them  and 
others  ;  though  God  is  pleased  sometimes  to 
make  it  remarkable,  as  in  the  story  which  is 
credibly  related  of  a  certain  village  in  the  Can- 
ton of  Bern  in  Switzerland,  consisting  of  ninety 
houses,  which  in  the  year  1584  were  all  de- 
stroyed by  an  earthquake,  except  one  house, 
in  which  the  good  man  and  his  family  were  at 
that  time  together  praying.  That  promise  is 
sure  to  all  the  seed  of  faithful  Abraham,  "  Fear 
not,  I  am  thy  shield."  Gen.  15  :  1.  Wisdom 
herself  has  passed  her  word  for  it,  Prov.  1  :  33. 
"  Whoso  hearkeneth  to  me,"  wherever  he 
dwells,  he  "  shall  dwell  safely,  and  shall  be 
quiet  from  "  all  real  evil  itself,  and  from  the 
amazing,  tormenting  *'  fear  of  evil."  Nothing 
can  hurt,  nothing  needs  alarm  those  whom  God 

3.  If  you  have  not  a  church  in  your  house, 

48  A    CHURCH    IN    THE    HOUSE, 

it  is  to  he  feared  that  Satan  will  have  a  seat 
there.  If  religion  do  not  rule  in  your  families, 
sin  and  wickedness  will  rule  there.  "  I  know 
where  thou  dwellest,"  says  Christ  to  the  angel 
of  the  church  of  Pergamos,  Rev.  2  :  13,  **  even 
where  Satan's  seat  is;"  that  was  his  affliction  : 
but  there  are  many  whose  sin  it  is ;  by  theii 
irreligion  and  immorality  they  allow  Satan  a 
seat  in  their  houses,  and  that  seat  a  throne. 
They  are  very  willing  that  the  strong  man 
armed  should  keep  his  palace  there,  and  that 
his  goods  should  be  at  peace ;  and  the  surest 
way  to  prevent  this  is  by  setting  up  a  church 
in  the  house.  It  is  commonly  said,  that  where 
God  has  a  church,  the  devil  will  have  his 
chapel :  but  it  may  more  truly  be  said  in  this 
case,  where  God  has  not  a  church,  the  devil 
will  have  his  chapel.  If  the  unclean  spirit  find 
the  house  in  this  sense  empty,  empty  of  good, 
though  it  be  swept  and  garnished,  he  "  taketh 
to  himself  seven  other  spirits  more  wicked  than 
himself,  and  they  enter  in  and  dwell  there." 

Teri'ible   stories  have  been  told  of  houses 
haunted  by  the  devil,  and  of  the  fear  people 

OU    lAMILV    RELIGION.  49 

have  had  of  dwclHng  in  such  houses  ;  verily 
tliose  houses  in  which  rioting  and  drunkenness 
reign,  in  whicli  swearing  and  cursing  are  the 
language  of  the  house,  or  in  which  the  more 
spiritual  wickednesses  of  pride,  malice,  cove- 
tousness  and  deceit  have  the  ascendency,  may 
truly  be  said  to  be  haunted  by  the  devil ;  and 
they  are  most  uncomfortable  houses  for  any 
man  to  live  in ;  they  are  holds  of  foul  spirits, 
and  cages  of  unclean  and  hateful  birds,  even  as 
Babylon  the  great  when  fallen.  Rev.  IS  :  2. 

Now  the  way  to  keep  sin  out  of  the  house 
is  to  keep  up  religion  in  the  house,  which  will 
be  the  most  effectual  antidote  against  Satan's 
poison.  When  Abraham  thought  concerning 
Abimelech's  house,  *'  Surely  the  fear  of  God  is 
not  in  this  place,"  he  concluded  no  less  but 
"  they  will  slay  me  for  my  wife's  sake.  Gen. 
20  :  11.  Where  no  fear  of  God  is,  no  reading, 
no  praying,  no  devotion,  what  can  one  expect 
but  all  that  is  bad  1  Where  there  is  impiety 
there  will  be  immorality ;  they  who  restrain 
prayer  cast  off"  fear.  Job,  15  :  4.  But  if  reli- 
gious worship  have  its  place  in  the  house,  it 

50  A    CHURCH    IN    THE    HOUSE, 

may  be  hoped  that  vice  will  not  have  a  place 
there.  There  is  much  of  truth  in  that  saying 
of  good  Mr.  Dod,  "  Either  praying  will  make 
a  man  give  over  sinning,  or  sinning  will  make 
a  man  give  over  praying,"  There  remains 
some  hope  concerning  those  who  are  otherwise 
bad,  as  long  as  they  keep  up  prayer.  Though* 
there  be  a  struggle  between  Christ  and  Belial 
in  your  houses,  and  the  insults  of  sin  and  Satan 
are  daring  and  threatening,  yet  as  long  as  reli- 
gion keeps  the  field,  and  the  weapons  of  its 
warfare  are  made  use  of,  we  may  hope  the 
enemy  will  lose  ground. 

4.  A  church  in  the  house  will  make  it  very 
comfortable  to  yourselves.  Nothing  more  agree- 
able to  a  gi'acious  soul  than  constant  commu- 
nion with  a  gracious  God ;  it  is  the  One  Thing 
it  desires,  to  **  dwell  in  the  house  of  the  Lord ;" 
here  it  is  as  in  its  element,  it  is  its  rest  for  ever. 
If,  therefore,  our  houses  be  houses  of  the  Lord, 
we  shall  for  that  reason  love  home,  reckoning 
our  daily  devotion  the  sweetest  of  our  daily 
delights ;  and  our  family-worship  the  most 
valuable   of   our   family- comforts.     This   will 


sanctify  to  us  all  the  conveniences  of  our  house, 
and  reconcile  us  to  the  inconveniences  of  it. 
What  are  Solomon's  gardens,  and  orchards,  and 
pools  of  water,  and  other  delights  of  the  sons 
of  men,  Eccl.  2  :  5,  6,  8,  in  comparison  with 
these  delights  of  the  children  of  God  1 

Family-religion  will  help  to  make  our  family- 
relations  comfortable  to  us,  by  promoting  love, 
preventing  alienation,  and  healing  those  that 
may  at  any  time  happen.  A  family  living  in 
the  fear  of  God,  and  joining  daily  in  religious 
worship,  truly  enjoys  itself;  "  Behold  how 
good  and  how  pleasant  a  thing  it  is  for  breth- 
ren" thus  to  **  dwell  together  ;"  it  is  not  only 
like  ointment  and  perfume  which  rejoice  the 
heart,  but  like  the  holy  ointment,  the  holy  per- 
fume wherewith  Aaron  the  saint  of  the  Lord 
was  consecrated  :  not  only  like  the  common 
dew  of  heaven,  but  like  the  dew  which  de- 
scends upon  the  mountains  of  Sion,  the  holy 
mountains.  Ps.  133  :  1,  2,  3.  The  communion 
of  saints  in  that  which  is  the  work  of  saints,  is 
without  doubt  the  most  pleasant  communion 
here  on  earth,  and  the  liveliest  representation 

52  A    CHURCH    IN    THE    HOUSE, 

and  surest  pledge  of  those  everlasting  joys 
which  are  the  happiness  of  the  spirits  of  just 
men  made  perfect,  and  the  hopes  of  holy  souls 
in  this  imperfect  state. 

Family-religion  will  make  the  affairs  of  the 
family  successful ;  and  though  they  may  not  in 
every  thing  issue  to  our  mind,  yet  we  may  by* 
faith  foresee  that  they  will  at  last  issue  to  our 
good.  If  this  beauty  of  the  Lord  our  God  be 
upon  us  and  our  families,  it  will  prosper  the 
work  of  our  hands  unto  us,  yea,  the  work  of 
our  hands  it  will  establish,  or  it  will  establish 
our  hearts  in  that  comfort  which  makes  every 
thing  that  occurs  easy.    Ps.  90  :  17;  112  :  8. 

We  cannot  suppose  our  mountain  to  stand 
so  strong  but  that  it  will  be  moved ;  trouble  in 
the  flesh  we  must  expect,  and  affliction  in  that 
from  which  we  promise  ourselves  most  com- 
fort ;  and  when  divine  Providence  makes  our 
houses  houses  of  mourning,  then  it  will  be 
comfortable  to  have  them  houses  of  prayer,  and 
to  have  had  them  so  before.  When  sickness, 
and  sorrrow,  and  death  come  into  our  families, 
(and  sooner  or  later  they  will  come,)  it  is  good 


that  they  should  find  prayer  ascending,  and  the 
family  accustomed  to  seek  God  ;  for  if  we  are 
to  begin  this  good  work  when  distress  forces 
us  to  it,  we  shall  drag  heavily  in  it.  They  who 
pray  constantly  when  they  are  well,  may  pray 
comfortably  when  they  are  sick. 

5.  A  church  in  the  house  will  be  a  Qrood 
legacy,  nay,  it  will  be  a  good  inlicntance^  to 
he  left  to  your  children  after  you.  Reason  di- 
rects us  to  consult  the  welfare  of  posterity,  and 
to  lay  up  in  store  a  good  foundation  for  those 
who  shall  come  after  us ;  and  we  cannot  do 
this  better  than  by  keeping  up  religion  in  our 
houses.  A  family-altar  will  be  the  best  legacy; 
your  children  will  for  this  rise  up  and  call  you 
blessed,  and  it  may  be  hoped  they  will  be 
praising  God  for  you,  and  praising  God  like 
you,  here  on  earth,  when  you  are  praising  him 
in  heaven. 

You  will  hereby  leave  your  children  the 
benefit  of  many  prayers  put  up  to  heaven  for 
them,  which  will  be  kept,  as  it  were,  upon  the 
file    there,  to  be   answered  to    their   comfort 

when  you  are  silent  in  the  dust.    It  is  time  of 

54  A    CHURCH    IN    THE    HOUSE, 

prayer,  as  we  say  of  winter,  "  it  never  rots  in 
the  skies."  The  seed  of  Jacob  know  they  do 
not  seek  in  vain,  though  perhaps  they  Hve  not 
to  see  their  prayers  answered.  Christians  who 
have  made  conscience  of  praying  daily  with 
and  for  their  children,  have  reason  to  hope  that 
the  children  of  so  many  prayers  will  not  perish 
at  last :  thus  encouraged,  Joseph's  dying  word 
has  been  the  language  of  many  a  dying  chris- 
tian's faith,  "  I  die,  but  God  will  surely  visit 
you."  Gen.  50  :  24.  I  have  heard  of  a  dutiful 
son  who  said  he  valued  an  interest  in  his  pious 
father's  prayers  far  more  than  his  interest  in 
his  estate,  though  a  considerable  one. 

You  will  likewise  hereby  leave  your  children 
a  good  example,  which  you  may  hope  they  will 
follow  when  they  come  into  houses  of  their 
own.  The  usage  and  practice  of  families  is 
commonly  transmitted  from  one  generation  to 
another.  Bad  customs  are  many  times  thus  en- 
tailed :  they  who  burnt  incense  to  the  Queen 
of  Heaven,  learnt  it  of  their  fathers.  Jer.  44  : 
17.  And  a  vain  conversation  was  thus  received 
by  tradition.    1  Pet.  1  :  18.  And  why  may  not 


good  customs  be  in  like  manner  handed  down 
to  posterity  ]  Thus  we  should  make  known 
the  ways  of  God  to  our  children,  that  they  may 
arise  and  declare  them  to  their  children,  Ps. 
76  :  6,  and  religion  may  become  an  inheritance 
in  our  families.  Let  our  children  be  able  to 
say,  when  they  are  tempted  to  neglect  religion, 
that  it  was  the  way  of  their  family,  the  good 
old  way,  in  which  their  fathers  walked,  and 
in  which  they  themselves  were  educated  and 
trained  up  :  and  with  this  they  may  answer 
him  who  reproaches  them.  Let  family- worship, 
besides  all  its  other  pleas  for  itself,  be  able  in 
your  houses  to  j^lead  parental  example.  And 
though  to  the  acceptableness  of  the  service  it  is 
requisite  that  it  be  done  from  a  higher  and 
better  principle  than  purely  to  keep  up  the 
custom  of  the  family,  yet  better  so  than  not  at 
all :  and  the  form  of  godliness  may,  by  the 
gi'ace  of  God,  at  length  prove  the  happy  vehi- 
cle of  its  power ;  and  dry  bones  whilst  un- 
buried  may  be  made  to  live.  Thus  "  a  good 
man  leaves  an  inheritance  to  his  children ;  and 
the  generation  of  the  upright  shall  be  blessed." 

56  A    CHURCH    IN   THE    HOUSE, 

6.  A  church  in  the  house  will  contribute 
very  much  to  the  prosperity  of  the  church  of 
God  in  the  land.  Family-religion,  if  it  prevail, 
will  spread  religion  over  the  land,  and  very 
much  advance  the  beauty  and  peace  of  oui 
Zion.  To  this  I  hope  we  are  all  hearty  well 
wishers  :  setting  aside  the  consideration  of 
parties  and  separate  interests,  and  burying  all 
names  of  distinction  in  the  grave  of  christian 
charity,  we  earnestly  desire  to  see  ti-ue  Chris- 
tianity, and  serious  godliness  in  the  power  of  it, 
prevailing  and  flourishing  in  our  land ;  to  see 
knowledge  filling  the  land  as  the  waters  cover 
the  sea;  to  see  holiness  and  love  giving  law 
and  triumphing  over  sin  and  strife.  We  would 
see  cause  to  call  our  city  "  A  city  of  righte- 
ousness, a  faithful  city,  its  walls  salvation  and 
its  gates  praise."  All  this  would  be  effected 
if  family  religion  were  generally  maintained. 

When  the  wall  was  to  be  built  about  Jerusa- 
lem, it  was  quickly  done  by  this  expedient, 
every  one  undertook  to  repair  over  against  his 
own  house.  See  Neh.  3  :  10,  &c.  And  if  ever 
the  decayed  walls  of  the  gospel  Jerusalem  be 


built  up  it  must  be  by  the  same  method.  Every 
one  must  sweep  before  his  own  door,  and  then 
the  street  will  be  clean.  If  there  were  a 
chiirch  in  every  house,  there  would  be  such 
a  church  in  our  land  as  would  make  it  a  praise 
throughout  the  whole  earth.  We  cannot  better 
serve  our  country  than  by  keeping  up  religion 
in  our  families. 

Let  families  be  well  catechised,  and  then 
the  public  preaching  of  the  word  will  be  the 
more  profitable  and  the  more  successful.  For 
want  of  this,  when  we  speak  ever  so  plainly  of 
the  things  pertaining  to  the  kingdom  of  God, 
to  the  most  we  do  but  speak  parables.  The 
hook  of  the  Lord  is  delivered  to  them  who  are 
not  catechised,  saying,  Read  this,  and  they  say 
We  are  not  lea'nied;  learned  enough  they  are 
in  other  things,  but  not  in  the  one  thing  need- 
ful. Isa.  29  :  12.  But  our  work  is  easy  with 
those  who  from  their  childhood  have  known 
the  Holy  Scriptures. 

If  every  family  were  a  praying  family,  pub- 
lic prayers  would  be  the  better  joined  in,  more 
intelligently  and   more  affectionately,  for  the 

58  A    CHURCH    IN    THE    HOUSE, 

more  we  are  used  to  prayer,  the  more  ready  we 
shall  be  in  that  holy  and  divine  art  of  ''  enter- 
ing into  the  holiest"  in  that  duty.  And  public 
reproofs  and  admonitions  would  be  as  a  nail  in 
a  sure  place,  if  masters  of  families  would  second 
them  with  their  family  discipline,  and  so  clinch 
those  nails. 

Religious  families  are  blessings  to  the  neigh- 
borhood they  live  in,  at  least  by  their  prayers. 
A  good  man  thus  becomes  a  public  good  ;  and 
it  is  his  ambition  to  be  so.  Though  he  see  his 
children's  children,  he  has  small  joy  if  he  do 
not  see  peace  upon  Israel.  Ps.  128  -.  5,Q>.  And 
therefore  postponing  all  his  own  interests  and 
satisfactions,  he  sets  himself  to  seek  the  good 
of  Jerusalem  all  the  days  of  his  life.  Happy 
were  we  if  there  were  many  such. 

It  remains  to  make  some  practical  appli- 
cation of  the  whole  subject ;  and  I  pray  you 
let  my  counsel  be  acceptable  ;  and  while  I  en- 
deavor to  give  every  one  his  portion,  let  your 
consciences  assist  me,  and  take  to  yourselves 
that  which  belongs  to  you. 

OR    FAMILY    llELIGION.  59 

1.  Let  those  heads  of  families  who  have 
hitherto  lived  in  the  neglect  of  family-rehgion  be 
persuaded  now  to  set  it  up,  and  henceforward 
to  make  conscience  of  it.  I  know  it  is  hard  to 
persuade  people  to  begin  even  a  good  work 
to  which  they  have  not  been  used  ;  yet,  if  G  od 
by  his  gi'ace  apply  this  word,  who  can  tell  but 
some  may  be  wrought  upon  to  comply  with  the 
design  of  it  %  We  have  no  ill  design  in  urging 
you  to  this  part  of  your  duty :  we  aim  not  at 
the  advantage  of  a  party,  but  purely  at  the 
prosperity  of  your  families.  We  are  sure  we 
have  reason  on  our  side,  and  if  you  will  but 
suffer  that  to  rule  you,  we  shall  gain  our  point  ; 
and  you  will  all  firmly  resolve,  as  Joshua  did, 
that  whatever  others  do  themselves,  and  what- 
ever they  say  of  you,  you  and  your  houses  will 
serve  the  Lord.  God  put  it  into  and  keep  it  in 
the  imagination  of  the  thought  of  your  heart, 
and  establish  your  way  therein  before  him ! 

Proceed  in  the  right  method ;  first  set  up 
Christ  upon  the  throne  in  your  hearts,  and  then 
set  up  a  church  for  Christ  in  your  house.  Let 
Christ  dwell  in  your  hearts  by  faith,  and  then 

60  A    CHURCH    IN    THE    HOUSE, 

let  him  dwell  in  your  houses ;  you  do  not  begin 
at  the  right  end  of  your  work  if  you  do  not 
first  give  your  own  selves  unto  the  Lord;  God 
had  respect  first  to  Abel,  and  then  to  his  offer- 
ing. Let  the  fear  and  love  of  Grod  mle  in  your 
hearts,  and  have  a  commanding  sway  and  em- 
pire there,  and  then  set  up  an  altar  for  God  in* 
your  tents ;  for  you  cannot  do  that  acceptably 
till  you  have  first  consecrated  yourselves  as 
spiritual  priests  to  God,  to  serve  at  that  altar. 
And  when  your  hearts,  like  Lydia's,  are 
opened  to  Christ,  let  your  house,  like  hers, 
be  opened  to  him  too.  Acts,  16  :  14,  15.  Let 
there  be  churches  in  all  your  houses  ;  let  those 
who  have  the  stateliest,  richest,  and  best  fur- 
nished houses,  reckon  a  church  in  them  to  be 
their  best  ornament :  let  those  who  have  houses 
of  the  greatest  care  and  business,  reckon  fami- 
ly-religion their  best  employment ;  and  not 
neglect  the  one  thing  needful  while  they  are 
careful  and  cumbered  about  many  things  :  nor 
let  those  who  have  close  and  mean  habitations 
be  discouraged ;  the  ark  of  God  long  dwelt  in 
curtains.    Your  dwelling  is  not  so  straight  but 

OK    FAMILY    UELICilON.  61 

you  may  find  room  for  a  church  iu  it.  Ciiurch- 
work  is  often  chargeable,  but  you  may  do  this 
church-work  cheap :  you  need  not  make  silver 
shrines,  as  they  did  for  Diana,  nor  lavish  gold 
out  of  the  bag,  as  idolaters  did  in  the  service 
of  their  gods;  Isa.  46  :  6;  no,  "An  altar  of 
earth  shall  you  make  to  your  God,"  Exod. 
20  :  24,  and  he  vv^ill  accept  it.  Church-work 
is  accustomed  to  be  slow  work,  but  you  may 
do  this  quickly.  'Put  on  resolution,  and  you 
may  set  up  this  tabernacle  to-night,  before  to- 

Would  you  keej)  up  your  authority  in  your 
family  1  You  cannot  do  it  better  than  by  keep- 
ing up  religion  in  your  family.  If  ever  the 
head  of  a  family  appears  great,  tiTily  great,  it 
is  when  he  is  going  before  his  house  in  the 
service  of  God,  and  presiding  among  them  in 
holy  things.  Then  he  shows  himself  worthy  of 
double  honor,  when  he  teaches  them  the  good 
knowledge  of  the  Loid,  and  is  their  mouth  to 
God  in  the  name  of  God. 

Would  you  have  your  family  relations  com- 
fortable, your  affairs  successful,  and  give  an 


62  A    CHURCH    IN    THE    HOUSE, 

evidence  of  your  professed  subjection  to  the 
Gospel  of  Christ  ]  Would  you  live  in  God's 
fear,  and  die  in  his  favor,  and  escape  that  curse 
which  is  entailed  upon  prayerless  families  1  Let 
religion  in  the  power  of  it  have  its  due  place, 
that  is  the  uppermost  place  in  your  houses. 

Many  objections  your  own  corrupt  hearts  ' 
will  make  against  erecting  these  churches,  but 
they  will  appear  frivolous  and  trifling  to  a 
pious  mind  that  is  steadfastly  resolved  for  God 
and  godliness ;  you  will  never  go  on  in  your 
way  to  heaven,  if  you  will  be  frightened  by 
lions  in  the  street.    Whatever  is  the  difficulty 


you  dread,  the  discouragement  you  apprehend 
in  it,  I  am  confident  it  is  not  insuperable,  it 
is  not  unanswerable.  "  He  that  observes  the 
wind  shall  not  sow,  and  he  that  regards  the 
clouds  shall  not  reap." 

Be  not  loath  to  begin  a  new  custom,  if  it  be 
a  good  custom,  especially  if  it  be  a  duty,  (as 
certainly  this  is,)  which,  w^hile  you  continue  in 
its  neglect,  you  live  in  sin ;  for  omissions  are 
sins,  and  must  come  into  judgment.  It  may  be 
that  you  have  been  convinced  that  you  ought  to 


worsliip  God  in  your  families,  and  that  it  is  a 
good  thing  to  do  so  ;  but  you  have  put  it  off  to 
some  more  convenient  season.  Will  you  now 
at  last  take  occasion  from  this  a]ipeal  to  begin 
it  ?  Do  not  defer  so  good  a  work  any  longer. 
The  present  season  is  without  doubt  the  most 
convenient  season.  Begin  this  day ;  lot  this  be 
the  day  of  your  laying  the  foundation  of  the 
Lord's  temple  in  your  house;  and  then  consid- 
er, from  this  day  and  onward — as  God  by  the 
prophet  reasons  with  the  people  who  neglected 
to  build  the  temple,  Hag.  2  :  IS,  19 — take 
notice,  whether  God  do  not  from  this  day 
remarkably  bless  you  in  all  that  you  have 
and   do. 

Plead  not  your  own  weakness  and  inability 
to  perform  family  worship  ;  make  use  of  the 
helps  that  are  provided  for  you.  Do  as  well  as 
you  can  when  you  cannot  do  as  well  as  you 
would,  and  God  will  accept  of  you.  You  wil- 
lingly write  what  is  necessary  for  the  carrying 
on  of  your  trade,  though  you  cannot  write  so 
fine  a  hand  as  some  others  can ;  and  will  you 
not  be  as  wise  in  the  work  of  your  christieui 

64  A    CHURCH    IN    THE    HOUSE, 

calling  to  do  your  best,  though  it  be  far  short 
of  the  best,  rather  than  not  do  it  at  all  1  To 
him  who  has  but  one  talent,  and  trades  with 
that,  more  shall  be  given ;  but  from  him  who 
buries  it,  it  shall  be  taken  away.  Be  at  some 
pains  to  make  the  Scriptures  familiar  to  you, 
especially  David's  Psalms,  and  then  you  can-* 
not  be  at  loss  for  a  variety  of  apt  expressions 
proper  to  be  used  in  prayer,  for  they  will  be 
always  at  your  right  hand.  TaJce  with  you  those 
words,  words  which  the  Holy  Ghost  teaches,  for 
you  cannot  find  more  acceptable  words. 

And  now,  shall  I  prevail  with  you  in  this 
matter]  I  am  loth  to  leave  you  unresolved,  or 
but  almost  persuaded ;  I  beg  of  you,  for  God's 
sake,  for  Christ's  sake,  for  your  own  precious 
soul's  sake,  and  for  the  children's  sake  of  your 
own  bodies,  that  you  will  live  no  longer  in  the 
neglect  of  so  great,  and  necessary,  and  comfort- 
able a  duty  as  this  of  family- worship.  When 
we  press  upon  you  the  more  inward  duties  of 
faith  and  love,  and  the  fear  of  God,  it  cannot 
be  so  evident  whether  we  succeed  in  our 
en-and  as  it  may  be  in  this.    It  is  certain  that 


you  get  no  good  by  this  appeal — but  it  is 
wholly  lost  upon  you — if  after  you  have  heard 
it,  or  read  it,  you  continue  in  the  neglect  of 
family-religion  ;  and  if  still  you  "  cast  off  fear, 
and  restrain  prayer  before  God."  Your  fami- 
lies will  be  witnesses  against  you  that  this 
work  was  undone;  and  this  Tract  will  be  wit- 
ness against  you  that  it  was  not  for  want  of 
being  called  to  do  it,  but  for  want  of  a  heart  to 
do  it  when  you  were  called.  But  I  hope  bet- 
ter things  of  you,  my  brethren,  and  things  that 
accompany  salvation,  though  I  thus  speak. 

2.  Let  those  who  have  kept  up  family-wor- 
ship formerly,  but  of  late  have  left  it  off,  he 
■persuaded,  to  revive  it.  This  perhaps  is  the  case 
of  some ;  you  remember  the  kindness  of  your 
youth  and  the  love  of  your  espousals ;  time  was 
when  you  sought  God  daily,  and  delighted  to 
know  his  ways,  as  families  who  did  righteous- 
ness, and  forsook  not  the  ordinances  of  your 
God;  but  now  it  is  otherwise.  The  altar  of 
the  Lord  is  broken  down  and  neglected,  the 
daily  sacrifice  is  ceased;  and  God  has  kept  an 
account  how  many  days  it  has  ceased,  whether 

66  A    CHURCH    IN    THE    HOUSE, 

you  have  or  not.  Dan.  8  :  13,  14.  Now  God 
comes  into  your  houses  seeking  fiiiit,  but  he 
linds  none,  or  next  to  none  :  you  are  so  eager 
in  your  worldly  pursuits,  that  you  have  neither 
heart  nor  time  for  religious  exercises.  You 
began  at  first  frequently  to  omit  the  service, 
and  a  small  matter  served  for  an  excuse  to  put, 
it  by,  and  so  by  degrees  it  came  to  nothing. 

O  that  those  who  have  thus  left  their  first 
love  would  now  remember  whence  they  are 
fallen,  and  repent  and  do  their  first  works. 
Inquire  how  this  good  work  came  to  be  ne- 
glected :  was  it  not  because  your  love  to  God 
grew  cold,  and  the  love  of  the  world  prevailed  1 
Have  you  not  found  a  manifest  decay  in  the 
prosperity  of  your  souls  since  you  neglected 
this  good  work  ]  Has  not  sin  gained  ground  in 
your  hearts  and  in  your  houses  1  And  though 
when  you  dropt  your  family- worship  you  prom- 
ised yourselves  that  you  would  make  it  up  in 
secret  worship,  because  you  were  not  willing 
to  allow  yourselves  time  for  both,  yet  have  you 
not  declined  in  that  also  ?  Are  you  not  grown 
less  frequent  and  less  fervent  in  your  closet- 


devotions  too  ?  Where  is  now  the  blessedness 
you  have  formerly  spoken  of?  I  beseech  you 
to  lay  out  yourselves  to  retrieve  it  in  time,\^ 
Say  as  the  penitent,  Hos.  2  :  7,  "  I  will  go  and 
return  to  my  first  husband,  for  then  it  was  bet- 
ter with  me  than  now."  Cleanse  the  sanctuary, 
and  put  away  the  strange  gods  :  is  money  the 
god,  or  self-indulgence  the  god  that  has  gained 
possession  of  thy  heart  and  house  ?  Whatever 
it  is,  cast  it  out.  Repair  the  altar  of  the  Lord, 
and  begin  again  the  daily  sacrifice  and  oblation. 
Light  the  lam23S  again  and  burn  the  incense. 
Rear  up  the  tabernacle  of  David  which  is  fall- 
en down,  lengthen  its  cords  and  strengthen  its 
stakes,  and  resolve  it  shall  never  be  neglected 
again  as  it  has  been.  Perhaps  you  and  your 
families  have  been  manifestly  under  the  re- 
bukes of  Providence  since  you  left  off  your 
duty, — as  Jacob  was  while  he  neglected  to 
pay  his  vow ;  I  beseech  you  hear  at  length  the 
voice  of  the  rod,  and  of  Him  who  has  appoint- 
ed it,  for  it  reminds  you  of  your  forgotten 
vows,  saying.  Arise,  go  up  to  Bethel,  and  dwell 
there.    Gen.  35  :  1.    Let  the  place  thou  dwell- 

68  A    CHURCH    IN    THE    HOUSE, 

est  in  ever  be  a  Bethel,  so  shall  God  dwell 
with  thee  there. 

3.  Let  those  who  are  remiss  and  7iegligent 
in  their  family-worship  be  awakened  to  more 
zeal  and  constancy.  Some  of  you  perhaps  have 
a  church  in  your  house,  but  it  is  not  a  flourish- 
in  »•  church:  it  is  like  the  church  of  Laodicea,* 
neither  cold  nor  hot;  or  like  the  church  of 
Sardis,  in  which  the  things  that  remain  are 
ready  to  die ;  so  that  it  hath  little  more  than  a* 
name  to  live.  Something  of  this  work  of  the 
Lord  is  done  for  fashion-sake,  but  it  is  done 
deceitfully :  you  have  in  your  flock  a  male,  but 
you  vow  and  sacrifice  unto  the  Lord  a  corrupt 
thing :  you  grow  formal  in  your  accustomed 
services,  and  bring  the  torn  and  the  blind,  the 
lame  and  the  sick  for  sacrifice ;  and  you  offer 
that  to  God  which  you  would  scorn  to  offer  to 
your  governor  :  and  though  it  is  but  little  you 
do  for  the  church  in  your  house,  you  think  that 
too  much,  and  say,  "  Behold  what -a  weariness 
is  it !"  You  put  it  off*  with  a  small  and  incon- 
siderable scantling  of  your  day,  and  that  the 
dregs  and  refuse  of  it.    You  can  spare  no  time 


at  all  for  it  in  the  morning,  nor  any  in  the  even- 
ing, till  you  are  half  asleep.  It  is  thrust  into 
a  corner  and  almost  lost  in  a  crowd  of  worldly 
business  and  carnal  conversation.  When  it  is 
done,  it  is  done  so  slightly,  in  so  much  haste, 
and  with  so  little  reverence,  that  it  makes  no 
impression  upon  yourselves  or  your  families. 
The  Bible  lies  ready,  but  you  Ijave  no  time  to 
read :  your  households  are  otherwise  employ- 
ed, and  you  think  it  is  no  matter  for  calling 
them  in:  you  yourselves  can  take  up  with  a 
*'  word  or  two  of  prayer,"  or  rest  in  a  lifeless, 
heartless  tale  of  words.  Thus  it  is  every  day, 
and  perhaps  little  better  on  the  Lord's  day; 
no  catechising,  no  singing  of  psalms,  or  none 
to  any  purpose. 

Is  it  thus  with  any  of  your  families  1  Is  this 
the  present  state  of  the  church  in  your  house  % 
My  brethren,  these  things  ought  not  so  to  he. 
It  is  not  enough  that  you  do  that  which  is 
good,  but  you  must  do  it  well.  God  and  reli- 
gion have  in  effect  no  place  in  your  hearts  or 
houses,  if  they  have  not  the  innermost  and  the 
uppermost  place.  Christ  will  come  no  where  to 

70  A    CHURCH    IN    THE    HOUSE, 

be  a  guest  set  behind  the  door.  What  comfort, 
what  benefit  can  you  promise  to  yourselves 
from  such  trifling  services  as  these;  from  an 
empty  form  of  godhness  w^ithout  the  powder 
of  it  ?  # 

I  beseech  you  make  a  business  of  your  fami- 
ly religion,  and  not  a  by-business.  Let  it  be 
your  pleasure  and  delight,  and  not  a  task  and 
drudgery.  Contrive  your  affairs  so  that  the 
most  convenient  time  may  be  allotted  both 
morning  and  evening  for  your  family- w^orship, 
so  that  you  may  not  be  unfit  for  it,  or  disturbed 
and  straitened  in  it ;  herein  wisdom  is  profit- 
able to  direct.  Address  yourselves  to  it  with 
reverence  and  seriousness,  and  a  solemn  pause; 
that  those  who  join  with  you  may  see  and  say 
that  God  is  with  you  of  a  truth,  and  may  be 
struck  thereby  into  a  like  holy  awe.  You  need 
not  be  long  in  the  service,  but  you  ought  to  be 
lively  in  it ;  not  slothful  in  this  business,  be- 
cause it  is  the  business  for  God  and  your 
souls,  but  fervent  in  sjyirit,  fici'ving  the  Loi'd. 

4.  Let  those  who  have  a  church  in  their  house 
be  very  careful  to  adorn  and  heautfy  it  in  their 


conversation.  {  If  you  pray  in  your  families,  anrl 
read  the  Scriptures,  and  sing  psalms,  and  yet 
are  passionate  and  fro  ward  with  your  relations, 
quarrelsome  and  contentious  with  your  neigh- 
bors, unjust  and  deceitful  in  your  dealings,  in- 
temperate, or  allow  yourselves  in  any  other 
sinful  way,  you  pull  down  with  one  hand  what 
you  build  up  with  the  other.  Your  prayers 
will  be  an  abomination  to  God,  and  to^goo"n. 
men  too,  if  they  be  thus  polluted."  "  Be  not 
deceived,  God  is  not  mocked." 

See  that  you  be  universal  in  your  religion, 
tliat  it  may  appear  that  you  are  sincere  in  it. 
Show  that  you  believe  a  reality  in  it,  by  acting 
always  under  the  commanding  power  and  in- 
fluence of  it.  Be  not  Christians  upon  your 
knees  and  Jews  in  your  shops.  While  you 
seem  saints  in  your  devotions,  prove  not  your- 
selves sinners  in  your  life.  Having  begun  the 
dny  in  the  fear  of  God,  bo  in  that  fear  all  the 
dny  long.  Let  the  example  you  set  your  fami- 
lies be  throughout  good,  and  by  it  teach  them 
not  only  to  read  and  pray,  for  that  is  but  half 
their  work,  but  by  it  teach   them   to  be  meek 

72  A    CHURCH    IN    THE    HOUSE, 

and  humble,  sober  and  temperate,  loving  and 
peaceable,  just  and  honest;  so  shall  you  adorn 
the  doctrine  of  God  our  Savior;  and  those  who 
will  not  be  won  by  the  word,  shall  be  won 
by  your  godly  life.  Your  family-worshij)  is  an 
honor  to  you,  see  to  it  that  neither  you  nor 
yours  be  in  any  thing  a  disgrace  to  it. 

5.  Let  tliose  tolio  arc  setting  out  in  the  toorld 
set  U2^  a  cliurcli  in  their  house  at  first,  and  not 
defer  it.  Plead  not  youth  and  bashfulness ;  if 
you  have  confidence  enough  to  rule  a  family,  I 
hope  you  have  confidence  enough  to  pray  with 
a  family.  Say  not,  "  The  time  is  not  come,  the 
time  that  the  Lord's  house  should  be  built,"  as 
thev  did  who  "  dwelt  in  their  ceiled  houses," 
while  God's  house  lay  waste.  Hag.  1  :  2,  4.  It 
ought  to  be  built  immediately;  and  the  longer 
you  put  it  off  the  more  difficulty  there  will  be 
in  doing  it,  and  the  more  danger  that  it  will 
never  be  done. 

Now  you  are  beginning  the  world,  as  you 
call  it,  is  it  not  your  wisdom  as  well  as  duty  to 
begin  with  God?  Can  you  begin  better]  Or 
can  you  expect  to  prosper  if  you  do  not  begin 


llius'?  The. fuller  your  heads  are  of  care  about 
setting  up  house,  and  setting  up  shoji,  and  set- 
tling in  both,  the  more  need  you  have  of  daily 
])rayer,  that  by  it  you  may  cast  your  care  on 
God,  and  gain  wisdom  and  direction  from  on 

G.  In  all  your  removals  be  sure  you  tale  the 
*' church  in  your  house^'  almig  iciiJi  you.  Abra- 
ham often  removed  his  tent,  but  wherever  he 
pitched  it,  there  the  first  thing  he  did  was  to 
build  an  altar.  It  is  observable  cuncerninj* 
Aquila  and  Priscillu,  of  whose  ])ious  family 
Paul  speaks,  1  Cor.  ]G  :  19,  that  when  he 
Avrote  his  epistle  to  the  Corinthians  they  were 
probably  at  Rome  ;  for  he  sends  salutations  to 
them  thither,  and  there  it  is  said  they  had  a 
church  in  their  house.  Ilom.  IG  :  3.  But 
when  he  wrote  his  epistle  to  the  Romans  they 
were  at  E2:)hesus  ;  for  thence  it  should  seem 
this  epistle  bore  date,  and  here  he  sends  salu- 
tations from  them  ;  and  at  Ephesus  also  they 
had  a  "  church  in  their  house."  As  wherever 
we  go  ourselves  we  must  take  our  religion 
with  us ;  so  wherever  we  take  our  families,  or 

74  A    CHURCH    IN    THE    HOUSE, 

part  of  them,  we  must  take  our  f^imily-religion 
with  us ;  for  in  all  places  we  need  Divine  pro- 
tection, and  experience  Divine  goodness.  "  I 
will  therefore  that  men  pray  every  where." 

When  you  are  in  your  city  houses,  let  not 
the  business  of  them  crowd  out  your  family- 
religion,  nor  let  the  diversions  of  your  country- 
liouses  indispose  your  minds  to  these  serious 
exercises.  That  care  and  that  pleasure  are 
unseasonable  and  inordinate  which  leave  you 
not  both  heart  and  time  to  attend  the  service 
of  the  church  in  vour  house. 

.  Let  me  here  be  an  advocate  also  for  those 
families  whose  masters  are  often  absent  from 
them,  for  their  health  or  pleasure,  especially 
on  the  Lord's  day,  or  long  absent  upon  busi- 
ness :  and  let  me  bear  these  absent  masters  to 


consider  with  whom  they  leave  those  few 
sheep  in  the  wilderness,  1  Sam.  17  :  28,  and 
whether  they  do  not  leave  them  neglected" 
and  exposed^  Perhaps  there  is  not  a  just 
cause  for  your  absence  so  much,  nor  can  you 
give  a  good  answ^er  to  that  question,  ''What 
doest  thou  here,  Elijah?"    But  if  there  be  a 


just  cause,  you  ought  to  take  care  that  the 
ciuirch  in  your  house  be  not  neglected  when 
you  are  abroad,  but  that  the  work  be  done 
when  you  are  not  at  home  to  do  it. 

7.  Let  all  members  of  families  help  to  pro- 
mote family-religion.  If  family-worship  be  not 
kept  up  in  the  houses  where  you  live,  let  so 
much  the  more  be  done  in  your  closets  for 
God  and  your  souls :  if  it  be,  yet  think  not  that 
will  excuse  you  from  secret- worship :  all  is  lit- 
tle enough  to  keep  up  the  life  of  religion  in 
your  hearts,  and  help  you  forward  toward 

Let  the  children  of  praying  parents  and  the 
servants  of  praying  masters  account  it  a  gi'eat 
privilege  to  live  in  houses  that  have  churches 
in  them,  and  be  careful  to  improve  that  privi- 
lege. Be  you  also  ready  to  every  good  work ; 
make  the  religious  exercises  of  your  family 
easy  and  pleasant  to  those  who  perform  them, 
by  showing  yourselves  ready  to  be  present, 
and  careful  to  attend  to  them  ;  for  your  back- 
wardness and  carelessness  will  be  their  great- 
est discouragement.     Let  your  lives  also  be  a 

76  A    CHURCH    IN    THE    HOUSE, 

credit  to  good  education,  and  make  it  appear 
to  all  with  whom  you  converse,  that  you  are 
every  way  the  better  for  living  in  religious 

8.  Let  those  who  have  not  families ,  have 
churches  in  their  chambers,  churches  in  their 
closets.  When  every  man  repaired  the  wall 
of  Jerusalem  over  against  his  own  house,  we 
read  of  one  that  repaired  over  against  his 
chamber.  Neh.  3  :  30.  Those  who  live  alone 
out  of  the  way  of  family- worship,  ought  to  take 
so  much  the  more  time  for  their  secret-wor- 
ship, and  if  possible  add  the  more  solemnity 
to  it.  You  have  not  families  to  read  the  Scrip- 
tures to,  read  them  so  much  the  more  to  your- 
selves. You  have  not  children  and  servants  to 
catechise,  nor  parents  or  masters  to  be  cate- 
chised by;  catechise  yourselves  then,  that  you 
may  hold  fast  the  form  of  sound  words  which 
you  have  received.  Exhort  one  another ;  so  we 
read  it,  Heb.  3  :  13 ;  exhort  yourselves^  so  it 
might  as  well  be  read.  You  are  not  made 
keepers  of  the  vineyards,  and  therefore  the 
greater  is  your  shame  if  your  own  vineyards 


you  do  not  keep.  AVhen  you  are  alone,  yet 
you  are  not  alone,  for  the  Father  is  with  you, 
to  observe  what  you  do,  and  to  own  and  accept 
you,  if  you  do  well. 

9.  Let  those  who  are  to  choose  a  settlement^ 
consult  the  welfare  of  their  souls  in  the  choice. 
If  a  church  in  the  house  be  so  necessary,  so 
comfortable,  then  be  ye  not  unequally  j^oked 
with  unbelievers,  who  will  have  no  inclination 
for  the  church  in  the  house,  nor  assist  in  the 
support  of  it,  but  instead  of  building  this  house, 
pluck  it  down  with  their  hands.  Prov.  14  :  1. 
Let  apprenticeships  and  other  services  be  cho- 
sen by  this  rule,  that  **  that  is  best  for  us  which 
is  best  for  our  souls ;"  and  therefore  it  is  our  in- 
terest to  go  with  those,  and  be  with  those,  with 
whom  God  is.  Zech.  8  :  23.  When  Lot  was  to 
choose  a  habitation,  he  was  determined  therein 
purely  by  secular  advantages,  Gen.  13  :  11,  13, 
and  God  justly  corrected  his  sensual  choice, 
for  he  never  had  a  quiet  day  in  the  Sodom 
he  chose,  till  he  was  burnt  out  of  it.  The  Jew- 
ish writers  tell  of  one  of  their  devout  rabbins, 
who  being  courted  to  dwell  in  a  place  'which 

78  A    CHURCH    IN    THE    HOUSE, 

was  otherwise  well  accommodated,  but  had  no 
synagogue  near,  he  utterly  refused  to  accept 
the  invitation,  and  gave  that  text  for  his  reason, 
Psa.  119  :  72,  "The  law  of  thy  mouth  is  bet- 
ter to  me  than  thousands  of  gold  and  silver." 

10.  Let  religious  families  keep  up  friend- 
ship and  fellowship  loiili  each  other,  and  as  they 
have  opportunity  assist  one  another  in  doing 
good.  The  communion  of  churches  has  always 
been  accounted  their  beauty,  strength  and  com- 
fort, and  so  is  the  communion  of  these  domes- 
tic churches.  We  find  here,  and  in  other  of 
Paul's  epistles,  kind  salutations  sent  to  and 
from  the  houses  that  had  churches  in  them. 
Religious  families  should  gi'eet  one  another, 
visit  one  another,  love  one  another,  pray  for 
one  another,  and  as  become  households  of 
faith,  do  all  the  good  they  can  one  to  another; 
forasmuch  as  they  all  meet  daily  at  the  same 
throne  of  grace,  and  hope  to  meet  shortly  at  the 
same  throne  of  glory,  to  be  no  more  as  they  are 
now,  divided  in  Jacob,  and  scattered  in  Israel. 

Lastly,  Let  those  houses  that  have  churches 
in  thefti,  flourishing  churches,  have  comfort  in 


them.  Is  religion  in  tlic  power  ol'it  nppermost 
in  your  houses  ]  and  are  you  and  yours  serv- 
ing the  Lord,  serving  liim  daily  ]  Go  on  and 
prosper,  for  the  Lord  is  with  you,  while  you 
be  with  him.  Sec  your  houses  under  tlve  pro- 
lection  and  blessing  of  heaven,  and  be  assured 
that  all  thinc^s  shall  work  to^rether  for  [jood  to 
you.  Make  it  to  appear  by  your  holy  cheerful- 
ness that  you  fmd  God  a  good  master.  Wis- 
dom's ways  pleasantness,  and  her  paths  peace ; 
and  that  you  see  no  reason  to  envy  those  who 
spend  their  days  in  carnal  mirth,  since  you  are 
acquainted  with  better  ])leasures  than  any  they 
can  pretend  to. 

Are  your  houses  on  earth  God's  houses  ? 
Are  they  dedicated  to  him  and  emjiloyed  for 
him?  Be  of  good  comfort,  his  house  in  heaven 
shall  be  yours  shortly  :  Li  ?n//  Father's  house 
there  are  many  mansions ;  and  there  is  one,  you 
may  be  sure,  for  each  of  you,  who  thus,  hij  a 
patient  continuance  in  well-doings  seek  for  glory ^ 
honor  and  immortalitij. 

T  HE     END. 


fin  10         i^-         .     C'  n  Q  Q ' 









^  ,^i-^fe^.